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RE: Rosen

> The Rosen article in the New York Review that has been discussed already
> several times is worth looking at for many reasons.  I found the
> discussion on what exactly "touch" means quite enlightening.  But some of
> Rosen's ideas might also explain why Gould's fame seems to continue to
> increase while so many of his contemporaries seem to be becoming
> forgotten.  Perhaps I am wrong, but it seems to me that Gould and Horowitz
> were the two titans of North American pinao playing in mid-century and
> that Horowitz is being relegated to the museum whereas  Gould continues to
> live.  The reason, I think, is that Gould gave up performing in public for
> good and thus concentrated on recording performances that would be valued
> for their sound and not the theatrics of the performance. 
Sorry Allan, butI have to say that I disagree very strongly with this view.
I am a great fan of both Gould and Horowitz (they are the only pianists I
really like) and I think it is very unfair to judge Horowitz as simply a
virtuoso. Although many of Horowitz's live recordings don't last
particularly well, compared to the perfection of GG in the studio, there are
many recordings which I believe can never be equalled let alone surpassed.
His Chopin vol.3 disc on RCA has the most incredible performances I have
ever heard of Chopin's music. The nocturne in e minor (although this one was
actually live) is perhaps one of the most lyrical recordings I have heard,
without a single note out of place. His Scriabin recordings on CBS are the
best I know of Scriabin's music (personally I think Sofronitsky is very
over-rated, and as for Pletnev he makes a hideous tone and comes nowhere
near to Horowitz).
	While I would agree that Horowitz's fame is sadly dying out, I don't
think this is particularly just. He tends to be judged today on some of his
worst recordings (eg. the London recital of 82 or the 78 Rachmaninov 3rd
with Ormandy which feature hideous pianos and even worse playing) rather
than the truly great ones. 
	It is also wrong, in my opinion to judge Horowitz as frequently
playing down to his audience and suggest Gould was some kind of saint.
Horowitz's best recordings are as true the spirit of the composer as
anybody's. A pianist who really did play down to the audience was Georges
Cziffra which is why he is now virtually unknown (though I do actually
admire some of his recordings). Just because Gould didn't give concerts
doesn't mean he was a purer musician. Many of his recordings are clearly
aimed merely to impress technically and in others he seem to be taking the
piss out those who think he can do no wrong, by deliberately runining a
piece (eg. the appassionata, which I really don't believe can be taken
	Personally I believe that today's Glenn Gould 'cult' owes as much to
his unusual personality as his playing (that doesn't mean I'm disputing the
greatness of his playing). Look at some of the postings we get on the list.
Probably half of them refer to GG's life and opinions, rather than his
playing. How many other great pianists are regularly discussed in terms
other than that of their playing. Surely this an example of how much we tend
to admire Gould's eccentricities rather than always listen objectively to
his playing (myself often included). I think he was a master of, in a sense,
'exploiting' the public in even greater ways than Horowitz did and I would
also say that he would not be so famous today if he hadn't been publicised
as an unusual personality.

>     I have been listening to quite a few of the Great Pianists artists and
> Gould really does stand out among many of them for, of all things, the
> subtelty of his dynamics.  For reasons Rosen explains, Gould did not excel
> at tonal colour (because he disliked the padal so much), but what comes as
> a surprise is the dynamic variations, which seem to me to be unique.  For
> many artists there is fff and ppp, but Gould operated at all levels in
> between. 
Interesting, but surprising that Horowitz is slated as a mere virtuoso then
Gould's dynamic range is mentioned. Horowitz had the biggest dynamic range
ever heard, and every imaginable graduation in between the extremes. This is
the real strength of his playing, not his technique. Sorry, but compared to
Horowitz, Gould had hardly any dynamic range (although I believe this is
quite intentional on Gould's part and actually a strength of his individual

I think that many people will take offence at a few of my comments, but I
assure you that I am as great a Gould fan as anybody. However I feel this
mailing list should be a front for serious discussion, rather than
senselessly excessive praise of Gould whatever he did, and endless banal
discussion of superficial matters (I'm certainly not referring to your
particular posting, Allan, but some of the other ones we have seen). Much as
I admire Gould he made many bad recordings and if I often criticise him it
is because I belive in objective listening, not because I dislike him.