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Re: Metronomes (was Re: No, Gould's so fast)

Daniel wrote:

> I'm fascinated by Bradley's observation that Schnabel's interpretation of
> the Beethoven 4th makes the piano blend in with the orchestra, while GG's
> makes it stand out separately. This means that GG's perf is directly
> to his own dogma about concertos -- i.e, that he objects to the
> "competition" between orchestra and soloist, and that the soloist should
> play more of an "obligato"  role. His perf of the Brahm's 1sr seems closer
> to putting his theory into practice.

Well, my report this morning isn't the only way of hearing it; it would be
interesting to hear other reactions to this pair of recordings.

But what I meant about Schnabel playing like part of the orchestra was: he
seemed to realize when his own material was more textural rather than
thematic, and played it as a tone color in the same way that an orchestral
player contributes tone color to the whole.  Sometimes one's own
contribution is prominent, sometimes subordinate; the conductor balances it.
It's OK for the piano to accompany the oboe, or play inside the string sound
giving it a new color.  The piano's notes come through as a textural brush
stroke, not as distinguishable notes.  The result seems symphonic.

GG, by contrast, (at least the way I hear it...) plays in the foreground
almost all the time and holds the listener's interest to what he is doing.
We hear Glenn Gould In There Playing Lots of Notes.  He's not necessarily
trying to compete with the orchestra in terms of empty flash or showiness.
But he's either unable or unwilling to play uninterestingly, even when the
music seems to call for it.  (He wouldn't be Glenn Gould otherwise!)  He
doesn't subordinate his own notes into the texture as a blend with the
orchestra; he brings out every detail he can find.  Consequently we hear
notes that we usually don't hear so clearly from other pianists, but perhaps
at the expense of overall flow and blend.  It's as if he is playing a
dissection that reveals in notes how Beethoven constructed his special
effects...effects that aren't so obvious as effects here because they're

I agree with you that his Brahms 1st with Bernstein is closer to an
orchestral approach.

Bradley Lehman, http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bpl
Dayton VA