Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Glenn Gould

Alec and I celebrated our third anniversary last week. To celebrate, we took a weekend away this weekend. Saturday, we went to Port Townsend to visit my brother- and sister-in-law (and neice and nephew, of course), and spend some money in the beautiful new location of their record store. Among many other things, we bought what is possibly the best coffe table book ever, and a cd set of Glenn Gould playing Bach's Goldberg Variations (one recording from 1955, and one from 1981). I've been spending quite a bit of time listening this week -- two completely different interpretations, but I find what I'm taking away from it is how beneficial it is to listen to now as a singer as well as a pianist. The lyrical qualities of his playing (much more than his singing in the background!) are so astonishingly beautiful. I'll be listening as I'm working or washing the dishes, and suddenly I'll be totally absorbed in the beauty of a single phrase, and think, "Aha! That's how I should shape that phrase in the Agnus Dei of the B Minor Mass, or the opening of Es ist vollbracht!" His runs are almost impossibly fast, but I've learned things there, as well. In the 1955 version, they're totally, almost mechanically, even in tempo and tone, which is amazing to listen to (and sometimes makes me giggle!). In the 1981 version, while they're equally fast, and sometimes even a little faster, there's something a little more human about them -- a softer attack, a subtle shaping of the phrase. I don't mean to say that they were any less technically perfect, but there was something a little more approachable about them. Gorgeous!

Oh! The rest of the weekend! On Saturday night, I was surprised by a night in a fancy hotel in downtown Seattle, and an evening at Jazz Alley to see Ahmad Jamal, followed by brunch and Pike Place Market on Sunday morning. Aaaahhhhh..... :)

No comments: