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Re: GG and Schubert & Brahms

Hi All,

First off, I too am surprised about Gould not
recording Schubert.  I guess we'd be wise to search
out some of GG's comments and see if somewhere he
wrote or spoke about why he did not record him.

Gould was often critical of the structure of the great
composers music and not their latent or inherent
musicality.  While everyone in the civilized world
knows that Mozart was a very musical guy, Gould was
not afraid to say that much of Mozart's music was
pedestrian, pedantic and knocked off by a person who
had that gift.  In other words, Gould felt that Mozart
was often not stretching himself to the limits or
exploring musical difficulties and resolving them as
did Beethoven.  Hence a part of Gould's disdain for
much of Mozart's keyboard music and a lot of his
instrumental music.  We don't all have to agree with
what this strong opinion but Gould had a point.

Now, I don't know about all of you, but Schubert might
have frustrated the perfectionist-contrapuntalist in
Gould for the same reasons.  I don't think that
Schubert wrote pedestrian music, but Gould might have
felt that Schubert could have learned much more about
structure and implemented it and worked it into his
skills.  And, on this point I would agree completely.
Schubert's piano music is often lovely to listen to
but structurally one is usually driven crazy wondering
where the centre of the music is, where the tonal road
is going and where he wants to end the piece.
Schubert did not create the type of dialogue between
music statements, like theme A, clearly modulating to
B and then the tension between them resolving
naturally at the end.  Schubert just did not have a
handle on thematic development that was anywhere near
that of Beethoven and for that matter, Haydn.  He
lapsed into reveries and went shooting all over the
harmonic map and this seemed to satisfy his own
creative urges.  Schubert also had a lifelong
appreciation that his knowledge of counterpoint was
really lacking and in his last months was busy taking
these types of lessons.  As a formalist, he probably
annoyed Gould to no end.

As for Brahms, I have considered Gould to be of the
first rank of late 20'th century Brahms interpreters.
His rhapsodies and intermezzi are unparalleled in
passion and of course insight.  What Gould could
accomplish with a second of silence, with a momentary
hesitation could be so utterly moving and loving.  You
just knew that Gould loved Brahms and his involvement
at unlocking new insights into music that was
overplayed was truly heroic.  How many people, for
instance, have found "new" ways of playing Beethoven's
"Moonlight" Sonata? It is so overplayed and yet the
true challenge is to find a way to say something new
about it without sounding amateurish or wrong.  Merely
playing the piece as if written by Bach would not do.
So, the challenge is there and in Brahms, Gould found
a vast and fertile field to grow new ideas.



--- "Cline, Eric" <Eric.Cline@REICHHOLD.COM> wrote:
> According to the GG biography "A Life and
> Variations" (is that the proper
> title?), I can't recall the author's name right now
> either, GG was planning
> on learning the Schubert 5th symphony so he could
> conduct it

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