Glenn Gould plays a piece he hates

Glenn Gould plays a piece he hates


norman lebrecht

February 05, 2018

Nothing quite like it. The source is here.


  • Theodore McGuiver says:

    I love that comment – ‘Of what I mean not an ounce’.

  • buxtehude says:

    On the other hand see what happens when he goes way deep into something he does like! Give this just 30 seconds:

  • Caravaggio says:

    LOl. He hated Mozart too and in fact murdered the composer with his deliberately disastrous recording of the piano sonatas. Should have never been released.

  • harold braun says:

    Strangely,he plays it quite wonderfully….

    • Hilary says:

      Indeed he does. He adds a few things to it, towards the end.

      • Mark says:

        No, he didn’t add anything. The notes he added was the soprano melody line.

        • Hilary says:

          Yes, you’re right Mark. Sorry.
          He is less adept at concealing his dislike for Chopin 3rd Sonata. Utterly horrible. It’s possible to sweep away overt sentiment, and be compelling ( notably Weissenberg) but GG’s self-possession failed on this occasion.

  • Novagerio says:

    At least he knew what he was criticizing – as opposed to many music critics out there (!!)

  • boringfileclerk says:

    The most overrated pianist of the 20th century.

  • Bruce says:

    That was beautifully played.

    Not such an amazing thing to do, though. Orchestral musicians make a sincere effort to play music they can’t stand, as beautifully as they can, all the time.

    (And I’ve noticed that a number of musicians tend to be Strauss snobs. When they tell me that a gem like “Morgen” is trash, or that “Rosenkavalier” is a 2nd-rate opera, I smile and nod politely until they’re done talking.)

    • HSY says:

      But I seem to remember Gould was actually a big fan of Strauss…

      • Pianofortissimo says:

        Indeed, he was a big fan, but he deconstructed Strauss’ melodrama Enoch Arden, Op. 38, in such a way that for Elisabeth Schwarzkopf it was the first and last collaboration with Mr. Gould.

        • Scott Belyea says:

          No. The collaboration with Schwarzkopf was the Ophelia songs.

          Enoch Arden was done with Claude Rains.

          • Pianofortissimo says:

            You’re right, sorry, wrong piece on the same disc. Anyway Elisabeth Schwarzkopt was horrified by Glen Gould’s liberties with the score, she told in an interview later that she though Gould was improvising some kind of “Straussiana” to warm up and asked him why not start the recording session, and then she was told that “that” was the recording session…

    • Edmund J. Cole says:

      Gould’s favorite Opera was reputed to be Richard Strauss’s Capriccio.

    • Bruce says:

      If he was a Strauss fan, that’s great. He doesn’t talk like one in this video. Maybe he was approaching this piece like one of those teachers who may be very proud of their most talented student, but will still rip them a new one any time they sense that the student is giving less than their absolute best.

    • M2N2K says:

      Yes, we certainly do “make a sincere effort” toward such a laudable goal, but our results are not always quite on the same level as the one being achieved by GG in this video.

  • La Verita says:

    It doesn’t matter what narcissist Glenn Gould liked or disliked. Gould was only interested in how music could serve him, period. What a waste of talent.

  • msc says:

    I’m on the other side — I don’t need to own everything he ever recorded, but I usually find him stimulating and sometimes brilliant. Because it is so fashionable to hate him, I would say he’s one of the most underrated pianists of the 20th century.

  • M2N2K says:

    He is overrated by some and underrated by others, just like most fine artists. But in much of Bach’s keyboard music, he is revelatory and simply superb.

    • buxtehude says:

      He made this repertory his own and brought many many new people into that tent, me included.

      Why all this disdain? He wasn’t the end of history. Simone Dinnerstein for example, who’d grown up on his Goldbergs, later poked around in the score in case there was anything he missed — I think that was the way she put it — and the result was her own sublime recording and a very different take it was.

      • M2N2K says:

        If you are interested in reasons for disdain, you should ask those who are expressing it.

        • buxtehude says:

          Of course I know it isn’t you, sorry if I seemed to turn this your way.

          My question was rhetorical, don’t want to press them. I do think that at least part of that unhappiness is a reaction to the intensity of his more clueless fans, who will honor no one other than their Glenn.

          Some hate the swing that he brought to Bach, others the singing, the creaky chair, they experience these as insults.

          I care only that newbies might be dissuaded from listening to Gould if that chorus is left unchallenged. Not much interested in why they think the way they think.

          • M2N2K says:

            No, he was not “the end of history”. Rather, he was the new beginning of contemporary way of interpreting Bach’s keyboard works on modern pianos that became highly influential because it was fully convincing in its conception and truly brilliant in its realization.

  • David R Osborne says:

    He’s right you know. Doesn’t explain it very well, but this song is very formulaically constructed. Gould is also quite amusing in his critique of one of the the themes from the first movement of the Emperor concerto. Sorry, I forget where I saw that- some interview or other.