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Absolute clarity

Sony's Glenn Gould
Anniversary Edition -
appreciated by REX HARLEY

'... though he takes liberties with tempi, there is always a keen logic behind the act.'

J S Bach: Inventions and Sinfonias - Glenn Gould. © 2002 Sony Classical

Philip Larkin once remarked of jazz pianist Thelonius Monk that there were times he came perilously close to 'sounding like everyone's kid sister, trying out sheet music at Woolworth's.' While no-one could accuse Glenn Gould of such arbitrary fingerwork, the two men have certain qualities in common. Their music-making is idiosyncratic to the point of being unique, and, once heard, immediately identifiable thereafter; both inspire intense admiration or extreme irritation -- their personalities are too large to allow mere 'liking'; both were possessed of a fierce intelligence; and both bring to their interpretation of others' work a personal vision which requires the listener to reevaluate even well-known material. In Monk's case, the beneficiary of such treatment was Duke Ellington; in Gould's, several composers, but none more so than Bach.

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Copyright © 25 December 2002 Rex Harley, Cardiff, UK


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