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goud and Art

Some time ago Kim wrote:

> Dear Mr. Morrison,

Please call me Jim.  Mr. Morrison sounds so formal.
> I have heard
> all the others you mentioned aside from Rubsum.

I sorry to say I misspelled his name, which is correctly spelled Rubsam,
with an umlaut over the u.  For the budget Naxos label he has recorded many
of Bach's keyboard pieces, as well as many organ compositions, if I'm not
mistaken.  While I can't say to be a great admirer of his work, Bradley, one
of the more knowledgeable people on the list, thinks highly of him.  To my
ear there's an absence in his Bach playing that Chisa Sugihara noticed as
being absent from Schiff's, that is, a lack of tension, and I would add of
passion and the oft praised quality of Ivo's English Suites, momentum.  (The
one recording of Rubsam that I do enjoy over Gould's is his French Suites.
Anyone else find Gould's French Suites hard to appreciate?  While the
Saraband used in the film 32 Short Films (from French Suite 2, I beleive) is
certainly one of the most lovely passages I've heard in his Bach playing, I
think the FS disc as a whole is not a successful recording.  And I, like
Bradley, find the French Overture almost impossible to listen to.)

 I'm sure that Schiff and Rubsam have their great qualities, but I seem
built and educated to love very few Bach recordings other than Gould's.
Heck, I've even come to wish that other pianists would make noises when they
played so that they could humanize their recordings, make me more aware of
the person behind the fingers.  A Bach recording without any humming or
groaning seems somehow to be missing an essential element.

But more seriously, the quality greatest significance to me that is absent
in most Bach keyboard recordings that I've heard by players other than Gould
is a admittedly abstract notion that the players are trying to communicate
something great and wonderful to me, something they are passionate about.
Roger Saydack recently wrote an interesting posting on Richter and Gould,
saying they used the piano like we use language, and I agree one hundred
percent with this judgement.  When I listen to Gould I get the impression
that Gould is just overflowing with thoughts and emotions, ideas and
feelings about this great composer Bach, and here, he's saying, listen to
me, come closer, I have something very important and wonderful to tell you,
something you probably have never heard before and may never again.  Gould
wrote that Richter tries to get through the piano and into the music, but I
would take that a bit further when talking about Gould.  I'd say he tries to
get through the piano, and through the music, into the realm of capital-A
Art, which just happens to also be the realm of the human soul.  I can't
explain why, but when I hear Gould I, and I know not everyone shares this
opinion, hear an artistic genius.  I'm in the presence of greatness when
Gould is playing his Bach in my living room over my stereo.  You have a
generous friend who introduced you to Gould and is still sending you tapes
by him.  There are few artists--musicians, writers and painters
included--that I'd rather be in the presence of.  As long as I'm being
sentimental, I may as well go all the way and say that when I'm listening to
Gould I feel glad to be alive, blessed for my path to have crossed Glenn
Gould's recordings.