Edvard Grieg: Piano Sonata, Op. 7 / Georges Bizet: Nocturne & Variations Chromatiques – Glenn Gould (1973/2015) [Qobuz 24-44.1]

Edvard Grieg: Piano Sonata, Op. 7 / Georges Bizet: Nocturne & Variations Chromatiques – Glenn Gould (1973/2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 44:51 minutes | 419 MB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | Digital Booklet | © Columbia Records

Gould as an “incorrigible romantic.” Instead of Schumann, Chopin, or Liszt he selected two unimaginably obscure rarities, referring to Grieg as a personal ancestor (“the composer was a cousin of my maternal great-grandfather”) and to Bizet’s Variations chromatiques as “one of the very few masterpieces for solo piano to emerge from the third quarter of the nineteenth century.”

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Glenn Gould – Canadian Music in the 20th Century (1967/2015) [Qobuz 24-44.1]

Glenn Gould – Canadian Music in the 20th Century (1967/2015) 
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 39:06 minutes | 346 MB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | Digital Booklet | © Columbia Records

“Canada’s a place to live comfortably, amicably, and with reasonable anonymity.” Thus Gould’s response to a Toronto Telegram survey on “Canada Day.” The recording of these three works appeared during Canada’s centennial celebrations on 1 July 1967. A fourth piece, Ombres by Barbara Pentland, was recorded but not released until 1992.

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Ludwig van Beethoven – Symphony No. 5 – Glenn Gould (1968/2015) [Qobuz 24-44.1]

Ludwig van Beethoven – Symphony No. 5 – Glenn Gould (1968/2015) 
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 39:15 minutes | 368 MB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | Digital Booklet | © Columbia Records

Joke, satire, irony, deeper significance: the back cover of Gould’s gripping recording contained four imaginary reviews by an English critic (Sir Humphrey Price-Davies), a Munich musicologist (Dr. Karlheinz Heinkel), an American psychiatrist (Prof. S. F. Lemming), and the American corres pondent to the Journal of the All-Union Musical Workers of Budapest. All were written by Gould himself …

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Glenn Gould – Bach: The Toccatas, BWV 910-916 (complete) (2012) [Qobuz 24-44.1]

Johann Sebastian Bach – The Toccatas, BWV 910-916 (complete) – Glenn Gould (2012)
FLAC Tracks 24bit/44.1kHz | Time – 01:21:05 minutes | 721MB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Source: Qobuz | Digital Booklet | ©  Sony Music
Recorded 1976-1979 at Eaton’s Auditorium, Toronto, Canada, and 30th Street Studio, New York City

There is an often-repeated adage that piano recordings of the Bach’s Toccatas, like those of the Goldberg Variations, fall into two categories: Glenn Gould and not Glenn Gould. These recordings embody the elements of Gould’s Bach without necessarily falling under the shadow of his larger-than-life musical persona. The performance style favours smooth legato, reserved ornamentation and an even balance between the hands. He is rarely tempted to emphasise fugal subjects or thematically significant bass lines. His touch is delicate rather than muscular; everything is confident and decisive but nothing is emphatic or overstated. Gould at his finest!

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Glenn Gould Plays His Own Transcriptions of Wagner Orchestral Showpieces (1973/2015) [Qobuz 24-44.1]

Glenn Gould Plays His Own Transcriptions of Wagner Orchestral Showpieces (1973/2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 00:46:32 minutes | 406 MB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | Artwork: Digital Booklet | © Columbia Records/Sony Music

“You know, I’ve always sort of sat down at night and played Wagner for myself, because I’m a total Wagnerite—hopelessly addicted to the later things especially—and I thought it would be fun to make my own transcriptions.” To manage the ending of the Meistersinger Overture without leaving out any of the themes, Gould had to play four-hands with himself—an instance of what he called “creative lying.”

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Ludwig van Beethoven – Bagatelles, Op. 33 & Op. 126 – Glenn Gould (1975/2015) [Qobuz 24-44.1]

Ludwig van Beethoven – Bagatelles, Op. 33 & Op. 126 – Glenn Gould (1975/2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 00:41:34 minutes | 360 MB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | Digital Booklet | © Columbia Records

If the final sonatas in the Beethoven cycle dragged on for ages, the two sets of Bagatelles were turned out in a trice: the recording was completed in a mere four days. Whether there was ever a plan to record the third set, op. 119, is anybody’s guess.

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Johann Sebastian Bach – The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I, Preludes & Fugues Nos. 17-24, BWV 862-869 – Glenn Gould (1965/2015) [Qobuz 24-44.1]

Johann Sebastian Bach – The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I, Preludes & Fugues Nos. 17-24, BWV 862-869 – Glenn Gould (1965/2015) 
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 35:25 minutes | 330 MB | Genre: Classical
Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | Digital Booklet | © Columbia Records/Sony Music

Ever in search of the ideal sound: for a while Gould apparently planned to record the Well-Tempered Clavier on a “harpsipiano” (“a neurotic piano that thinks it’s a harpsichord”), but Columbia declined. What remained is a level of polyphonic lucidity and contrapuntal rigor that beggars comparison.

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Johann Sebastian Bach – The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book II, Preludes & Fugues Nos. 9-16, BWV 878-885 – Glenn Gould (1970/2015) [Qobuz 24-44.1]

Johann Sebastian Bach – The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book II, Preludes & Fugues Nos. 9-16, BWV 878-885 – Glenn Gould (1970/2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 34:01 minutes | 328 MB | Genre: Classical
Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | Digital Booklet | © Columbia Records/Sony Music

Gould had already recorded Fugue No. 9 in E major (BWV 878) and No.14 in F-sharp minor (BWV 883) in 1957 to fill up an LP with the Fifth and Sixth Partitas (see No. 4). The earlier readings were much slower: 4’17” as opposed to 1’46” for BWV 878, and 3’14” instead of 2’45” for BWV 883. You never cross the same river twice …

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Johann Sebastian Bach – The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book II, Preludes & Fugues Nos. 1-8, BWV 870-877 – Glenn Gould (1968/2015) [Qobuz 24-44.1]

Johann Sebastian Bach – The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book II, Preludes & Fugues Nos. 1-8, BWV 870-877 – Glenn Gould (1968/2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 36:43 minutes | 356 MB | Genre: Classical
Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | Digital Booklet | © Columbia Records/Sony Music

Book II of the Well-Tempered Clavier occupies much more space in Gould’s discography than the first. The interpretative range is all the more striking: Fugue No. 7 in E-flat major, for instance, appears in two early CBC versions lasting 3:19 (1953) and 2:03 (1966) minutes, respectively, while the one here whizzes past in one minute and thirty-eight seconds.

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