<< -- 2 -- Rex Harley ABSOLUTE CLARITY
On this, the seventieth anniversary of his birth, Sony Classical has
been engaged in a comprehensive re-release of Gould's recorded oeuvre.
Each CD is handsomely packaged, with thorough liner notes and a glorious
series of cover photographs of the pianist. As if that were not treat enough,
these re-issues are offered at a bargain price too.
For those who do not know the saga of CD 318, the official tag attached
to the piano Gould became virtually wedded to, the details are all here.
'It's my Richard Strauss piano,' he wrote in typically eulogistic
mood; 'it's my Bach piano, it's my piano for playing William
Byrd ... It's a chest of whistles, it's a set of virginals, it's
just about anything you want to make of it. It's an extraordinary piano.'
It could also be recalcitrant and, in the recording of the Inventions
and Sinfonias, extremely poorly, issuing a series of bizarre clunks
and clicks, which Gould refers to as 'a slight nervous tic in the middle
registers', adding that he considers this a 'charming idiosyncrasy.'
Those unacquainted with Gould's habit of humming along rather less
tunefully than he plays, are also in for a surprise. At this point, one
may wonder why Columbia stuck with him all those years, or why any but the
curious or masochistic would want to listen to the results. His admirers
will offer reasons, and each will depend to some extent on the character
of the listener. I make no claims to speak for anyone beyond myself.
Copyright © 25 December 2002
Rex Harley, Cardiff, UK