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Re: GG and the Brandenburgs?

Juozas wrote:

>I'm confused about GG's recording of the BWV1050, the 5th Brandenburg
>concerto.  At first I read somewhere he was playing piano in the concerto
>(instead of the harpsichord). But  http://glenn.fdnet.com.au shows he was
>instead conducting it.
>This leads me to the following questions:
>1) did anyone at all dare to play the piano in the Brandenburgs?
>2) how come GG allowed someone else to play the harpsichord in the 5th
>Brandenburg and conducted instead?
>3) what is your impression about the rendition? (I haven't heard it
>myself but I somehow doubt it'd be a marvel, especially for my current
>Goebel-Pinnock taste)

There are at least two Gould performances that are (or have been)
available: the one on the Sony video volume 5, and the one with the
Baltimore Chamber Orchestra conducted by Peter Adler (on a Music & Arts
CD).  I've seen the video, and have the Baltimore CD.  Frankly, they're
both pretty bad, nowhere near Gould's best work.

- In the Baltimore performance, Gould plays a normal piano.  The orchestra
is alert enough most of the time, phrases are decently shaped, but the
last movement is deadly slow and thetic (in part due to Gould's
interpretation, overdotting all the dotted figures instead of simply
playing them as triplets).  Worse, in the first movement about a minute
before the cadenza Gould has a disastrous memory slip and improvises some
apologetic-sounding continuo chords until he's able to get back into the
passagework.  It's almost a train wreck.

- In the televised performance, things are (in some ways) worse.  Gould is
conducting from the "harpsipiano" which is a regular piano that has tacks
pushed into all the hammers...sounds silly.  His keyboard performance here
is OK, but the orchestra is pretty bad: Gould as conductor hasn't coached
them to use *any* dynamics, it sounds as if they're all sight-reading, and
it also sounds (and looks) as if they're all bored out of their skulls at
Gould's slow tempos.  The performance seems *very* long and monotonous,
awkward and laborious, there's no sparkle, and the last movement is as I
mentioned above: jerkily thetic with that wrong interpretation of the
dotted figures.  Da-wham, da-whumm-pa-pa whumm-pa-pa WHAM!  Ugh.  Then
there's the camera work, where the flute keeps catching the studio light
and creating a distorted glare at least a dozen times....

Then there's also the issue of the first movement's tempo in both these
performances: it too is slow, and it sounds as if everybody's counting it
in four beats to the bar rather than the notated two.  Again, laborious.

It's too bad, but these were not stellar moments for Our Hero.

Bradley Lehman, Dayton VA
home: http://i.am/bpl  or  http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bpl
CD's: http://listen.to/bpl or http://www.mp3.com/bpl

"Music must cause fire to flare up from the spirit - and not only sparks
from the clavier...." - Alfred Cortot