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re: GG: Mozart was a bad composer

Bradley wrote (about Mozart interview in GG Reader)
>And given what we know about GG himself often scripting his interviewers'
>questions...it's probably fair to say that the words in Monsaingeon's
>"mouth" are reliably GG's.  GG certainly doesn't refute them in this

Not sure about this interview in particular, but I did want to relate what
Bruno Monsaingeon himself said at the GG Gathering in Toronto in September
(his comments were pretty specifically in regard to the four films he made
for French TV in 1974).  

He said the working process was that he came to Toronto and spent a number
of days with Glenn - 18 hours per day (!) was not uncommon - where they did
both general conversation and specifically planned topics and approaches for
the shows.  (These get-togethers were months before the actual filming took

Bruno claims that the conversations in the 4 films were not scripted, but
were *improvised* (he implied based on the conversations and plans of the
preliminary sessions) and then edited.  In other words, there was no script
with Glenn saying "now, absolutely no speeding up but no slowing down
either" as he plays the downward scale figuration at a transition point in
his transcription of the Wagner Meistersinger prelude -- but it wasn't a
"live" 1-take event, either.

For example, I think Bruno said the famous opening sequence of the first
film (Glenn coming in with his coat, cap, sweater, etc. and tossing them
aside) was filmed 22 times or something like that.  In the second film,
about GG at work in a recording session, GG says after a take of a movement
of an English Suite something like "pretty good, except one note" -- well,
that one wrong note was intentionally played wrong in the same spot every
take by Gould, so they could edit together takes of this "mistake" later if
necessary (technical film problems, etc.) !!

Of course Bruno's denying these were scripted could be self-serving, but my
judgment is that his story rang true.  It seems totally credible that Glenn
and Bruno had developed a good rapport, and that a number of these
wide-ranging informal conversations in those long days together might have
ended up being the raw material upon which later art product blossomed.
Bruno's description of the recording process of these interview films seems
similar to descriptions I've read or heard of GG's regular recording
sessions - insofar as Gould worked in a way that allowed for some
spontaneity and experimentation/improvisation, while at the same time he
would control what, if any of these experiments made it to the public.

My guess is the stuff Bruno said in the Mozart interview may well have also
been based on one of these informal conversations.  It wouldn't surprise me
if most of them were actual quotes of what Bruno said; of course, he (and
Glenn) might very well have said many other things, too, that didn't make
the final cut, and as you say, GG may have controlled the tone of the final
product for publicity purposes. 

>(Speaking of wonderful and essential treatises about musicianship, what
>percentage of piano students ever read Quantz's 1752 book, _On playing the
>flute_?  2%?  0.5%?  Even if one never touches a flute, it's possible to
>learn far more from reading that book thoughtfully than from slaving away in
>a piano practice room....)

Good point.  The extreme version of this is Charles Ives saying it would do
a budding composer more good to spend three weeks in a Kansas cornfield than
three weeks at the Academy of Rome.  I remember in music school being told
that Schnabel taught his students to be a good musician first, a good
pianist second ... the implication being that most piano pedagogy was the
other way around.  GG was a great admirer of Schnabel, and I feel fortunate
that my first piano teacher was a student of a student of Schnabel's.  (Of
course, it also means my left-hand trills and tremolos are terrible)

>And there's also the axiom that a Great Pianist is measured by the ability
>to play the mainstream Great Music; the Unknown Music is mainly for
>specialists.  Axioms can be pretty limiting.

In the critics' panel at the GG Gathering, one critic specifically advanced
this point of view -- that GG could not be considered a great pianist
because he didn't play the mainstream romantic piano repertory.  (I think I
may have mentioned in an earlier post how infuriating this panel was ...!)