Glenn Gould hires a conductor – and rehearses himselfDaily Comfort Zone
The last of Daniel Poulin’s fascinating contributions for 2021.
More, we hope, next year.
In great secrecy Gould and the Hamilton Philarmonic met to run through Beethoven’s Second Piano Concerto. A young Juillard student, Jon Klibonoff was hired by Gould to stand for himself. Gould took a slow tempo for the first movement and even a much slower one for the second movement, always a favourite of his “the magnificent, glowing Adagio” he would often say. He told the orchestra he wanted… “to treat it almost like a Wesleyan hymn” and to conduct it not with three slow beats to the bar, but with twelve moderate beats. The experience was not successful; Gould lacked the technique to convey his idiosyncratic intentions clearly and to maintain ensemble and continuity. Finally, Gould was not happy with the session.
UPDATE from Mark Childs:
I was principal viola for these sessions with the Hamilton Philharmonic.
The problem with the second movement was that Glenn was subdividing the quarter notes into THREE beats, effectively making it 9/8 time rather than 3/4 time. This was causing great confusion in the orchestra, where most of the subdivisions were 16th or 32nd notes.
At a pause in the rehearsal I approached him to advise him of this. It didn’t seem to help.
You can hear Mark at 6:45 trying to reason with Gould.