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The Fifth partita, Gould and counterpoint
thanks to all for the recent renewed activity on the list. So I thought I'd
Some of you may remember the exchanges in this list a few weeks ago where
Charles Rosen mentioned a piece from the Musical Offering as something like
the first ever 'piano' piece.
I was lucky enough to be with Rosen over the last couple of days for a
recording session where he not only recorded this piece, but stressed again
its importance. Interestingly, he went on to say that the piano was the
ideal instrument for counterpoint (hence the worship of Bach by the
1809/10/11 composers) because it allows the artist to bring out the
different voices and therefore "make sense of" the counterpoint.
I have always felt that Gould's playing is so good often because he refused
to bring out the tunes, as opposed to the odious Schiff and others. This
was, I thought, a good thing because Bach, writing for instruments where the
different parts could not be brought out, must therefore have had something
much more subtle on his mind, and GG was getting closer than anyone else to
what that was. Is this really what Gould was doing? I don't remember Gould
being particularly concerned with authenticity (thought I'm happy to be
corrected on this).
And if so, do Gouldians in general dislike the famous fifth partita
recording that he hated because there was too much piano playing going on?
Actually I have to confess to liking it very much, but perhaps to be a true
disciple of GG, I should be more rigorous and concentrate on later, less
The third and final question is, if I should do this, which recordings in
the mind of the F-minors best show off Gould's later style?
Best wishes from a rather muggy and overcast Wales on the brink of electing
it's first national assembly,
ps. Am just buying a house and considering which part would benefit most by
being painted Battleship Grey.