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Discussion: Bach: Goldberg Variations - Glenn Gould

Posts: 28
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Post by terence April 9, 2007 (11 of 28)
Daland said:

When I first read about this idea, I felt a bit uncomfortable. But perhaps such a "re-performance" comes closer to the original than anything before it. Whenever you hear Glenn Gould (or any other great pianist) on LP or CD it is quite clear that this is not the real thing. You get an idea of the overall conception and much else, but the tone, the dynamics and the clarity of the recording depend on the sound engineers and the technology used.

The reviewer found it difficult to tell whether the differences between the recording and the re-performance were attributable to Gould's playing or to the quality of the recording.

In my opinion, any recording process is a reconstruction.

very true. my point is that in this particular case AT NO POINT does glenn gould actually strike any of the notes in question. it is NOT his performance.

at best it is a notional reconstruction of how gould's performance MIGHT (roughly) have sounded if 1955 was suddenly fast-forwarded to 2006/07 and he played his interpretation on the instrument used for this reconstruction.

i'm not saying that this SACD can't be enjoyed as such. of course it can. but it's machine music ultimately, machine generated and as such radically different from any other studio recording ever made by conventional, "hands-on" methods - however much the tapes were edited afterwards....

Post by Beagle April 9, 2007 (12 of 28)
Perhaps Pristine Audio could be persuaded to do waveform tests, to determine if this is indeed Glenn playing (or merely Joyce Yamaha).

Post by pelley April 9, 2007 (13 of 28)
I have this disc on order, and I can't wait to hear it. After reading Christine's review, it struck me that what's essentially missing with this re-performance technique is the feedback loop between the performer and his instrument. Musicians (and Gould in particular) subtly alter their technique to coax the desired sound from a particular instrument in a particular setting. So while I admire the magic, and I don't doubt for a moment the accuracy of what Zenph has achieved, it seems that the one-way nature of the "performance" could account for any perceived differences in the final result.

One more thing... the review mentions that "There's even a SA-CD of the 1955 recording (Stereo DSD layer only), which is one of the earliest titles released by Sony Classical to promote the format." I assume this is a typo and refers to the 1981 version? I've never seen an SA-CD of the original 1955.

Post by Sigfred April 9, 2007 (14 of 28)
Beagle said:

Perhaps Pristine Audio could be persuaded to do waveform tests, to determine if this is indeed Glenn playing (or merely Joyce Yamaha).

From what I can read from the review I would be surprised if that type of tests are able to show that with confidence.

Post by Christine Tham April 9, 2007 (15 of 28)
Thanks for the feedback. I have corrected two typos (one was "50 years" instead of "60 years", and the other was a reference to the earlier SA-CD being of the 1955 recording instead of the 1981 recording).

Post by akiralx April 11, 2007 (16 of 28)
terence said:

my point is that in this particular case AT NO POINT does glenn gould actually strike any of the notes in question. it is NOT his performance.

Though the ordinary CD is only an electronic reconstruction of what Glenn Gould sounded like in the studio at the time, isn't it? You had to be there to hear Gould, what you hear at home isn't him - he doesn't strike any notes there either.

I accept that this SACD is one more stage removed from the 'live experience', but a normal recording has gone through several such stages already.

I've got this on order also to hear what it sounds like - maybe I'm at an advantage because I've never heard either of GG's Goldbergs...

Post by Windsurfer April 11, 2007 (17 of 28)
akiralx said:

Though the ordinary CD is only an electronic reconstruction of what Glenn Gould sounded like in the studio at the time, isn't it? You had to be there to hear Gould, what you hear at home isn't him - he doesn't strike any notes there either.

I accept that this SACD is one more stage removed from the 'live experience', but a normal recording has gone through several such stages already.

I've got this on order also to hear what it sounds like - maybe I'm at an advantage because I've never heard either of GG's Goldbergs...

I'm putting this on order - just out of curiosity engendered by this conversation!

And my thanks also Christine, for a very thorough and thought provoking review!

Post by azure April 11, 2007 (18 of 28)
I thought this "re-performance" was made with an audience in the studio... ie do you actually hear the ambient noise?.. or was the recording made for the SA-CD done separately?
http://www.cbc.ca/arts/story/2006/09/26/gould-piano-technology.html

Post by pelley April 11, 2007 (19 of 28)
azure said:

I thought this "re-performance" was made with an audience in the studio... ie do you actually hear the ambient noise?.. or was the recording made for the SA-CD done separately?
http://www.cbc.ca/arts/story/2006/09/26/gould-piano-technology.html

It was performed for an audience on Gould's birthday last year. Then the same re-performance was reperformed in a quiet setting for the recording.

Post by Beagle April 11, 2007 (20 of 28)
Sigfred said:
From what I can read from the review I would be surprised if that type of tests are able to show that with confidence.

Exactly. If it looks like Gould, smells like Gould.... Christine says the re-performance at times resembles the 1981 performance [more than the 1955]. To me, that suggests that the 1955 mono recording is the farthest-from-Gould.

This begs for a Turing Test: Put the three recordings plus the ghost of Gould behind three curtains... now guess which curtain conceals the genuine article.

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