Review by canonical February 28, 2009 (6 of 7 found this review helpful)
|1. I already had the original redbook CD release of the Two and Three Part inventions with Gould (coupled with the Toccatas).
2. Many bogans died to get me the SACD version which is single-layer (like many of the early Sony releases) and almost impossible to find now at an earthly price.
3. It has thus been quite interesting to compare the original redbook CD with the re-engineered SACD version.
I find the SACD sound is very noticeably warmer and cleaner - far more pleasant - and I am very pleased to have made the purchase, even though I already owned the redbook version. Much of the harshness evident in the CD version has gone. There is one exception to this, however. Gould used a special pre-World War 2 Steinway which no-one else wanted ... and which he called piano 'CD 318' .. he then had it 'pimped up' to approximate the sound and action of a harpsichord. Gould was delighted with the sound, but noted that it had "one minor after-effect ... - a slight nervous tick in the middle register which in slower passages can be heard emitting a sort of hiccup."
And whereas, this hiccup is certainly noticeable in the standard CD version, it is doubly so in the SACD version. Sometimes, the hiccup can be irritating, and at other times, it just seems like a wonderfully quirky reminder of the oddity and genius of Gould who himself commnented on it as: ".. I now find this charming idiosyncrasy entirely worthy of the remarkable instrument which produced it."
The performances, of course, are classic and brilliant Gould.
On my redbook CD version, the 2- and 3-part inventions are organised by key, as per the Well-Tempered Clavier: i.e.
* C major (two part, 3 part)
* C minor (two part, 3 part)
* D major (two part, 3 part)
* D minor (two part, 3 part)
* E major (two part, 3 part) etc
But on the SACD version (which may well be adhering to the original LP release), the ordering is:
* C major (two part, 3 part)
* C minor (two part, 3 part) ... so far the same ... and then
* Eflat major (two part, 3 part)
* Bflat major (two part, 3 part)
* G minor (two part, 3 part)
* G major (two part, 3 part)
* B minor (two part, 3 part)
* E minor
* E Major
* A minor
* A major
* D major
* D minor
* F major
* F minor
It is difficult to believe that, with Gould, that this ordering can be purely random or unintentional. I suspect it must have been acutely intentional. Perhaps he just liked that sequence of keys. There is no explanation in the programme notes. Either way, one wonders why Sony tampered with the ordering in the redbook CD release by re-ordering it as per convention? Seems a naughty thing to have done, if that was not Mr Gould's intentions. In any event, the 'new' ordering on the SACD brings a new freshness to one's listening of the tracks.
Rating the sonics is not easy: the original recording is from 1964. The SACD sound is, in my view, a considerable improvement, and on this basis, I award the sonics 5 stars. It is still a 1964 recording, but now as fresh as we will ever reasonably get it.
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