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Re: Gould's Mozart

Dear F-Minors,

    I just picked up the Odyssey CD's of Gould's Mozart sonatas, and I don't
think it's at all crazy to enjoy them.  I am a rank beginner in this
repertory: I've only heard a few of the Mozart sonatas, and I don't own
alternative performances.  Even with my limited knowledge, though, quite a
bit sounds peculiar--in the sense of 'only Glenn Gould plays it like this'
[that 'rondo all turca', for example].  And, in that regard, it is equally
justified to hate Gould's performances.  It all depends on one's taste,
which is, thank God, entirely free to like and dislike without any need of
objective crieria.

      Knowing Gould's opinions of Mozart before I listened to the sonatas
may have prejudiced me, but they did sound at times like deliberate attempts
to play *against* the spirit of the music.  But what's wrong with that?
It's a perfectly valid interpretive stance, to which listeners can react as
they choose (and, at least by now, I doubt that anybody buys Gould's sonatas
to hear Mozart--they want to hear Gould's take, and they know they're in for
a bumpy ride).

    There is an argument that the performer needs to be responsible in his
or her approach to the composer (as Erich Leinsdorf entitled one of his
books "The Composer's Advocate").  But Mozart scarcely needs more
respectful, responsible performances.  As Pierre Boulez observed back in the
good old days, sometimes the best thing you can do for a masterpiece is to
ink in a moustache on it (he had the Mona Lisa in mind).  Of course, you've
got to be able to deliver the goods--make clear that your deconstruction of
the idol is not the envy of a hack, but the criticism of an artist.  And I
think Gould delivers on that score.  So I'm having fun with his Mozart,
though I expect I'll want to get some more advocacy-oriented performances at
some point too.

    And even if you hate Gould's Mozart, isn't it kind of neat that such a
project got made?  How many times are we really going to get performances of
a composer's music by an interpreter who *hates* it, and makes little effort
to conceal it?  Only Gould could have done it; only Gould had the freedom to
do it (in the sense that he didn't have a concert career to worry about,
didn't particularly care about reviews, and had a record company pretty much
willing to do what he wanted).  In that respect, at least, let us salute
Gould's Mozart sonatas as a remarkable product of the latter half of the
20th century.  We will not see their like again.

----- Original Message -----
From: "natalie louise webster" <wagnerlove@YAHOO.CO.UK>
Sent: Wednesday, August 09, 2000 6:09 AM
Subject: gould gould gould

> hello, f minors!
> just joined up and thought i'd say hi!
> many thanks to jim morrison ( not of the doors fame i
> hope...!?) fot the info on tower records gould video
> sale...at last i can complete my collection!
> i also am a fan of goulds' beethoven, and think that
> the reason it is greatly ignored by many could be
> related to goulds' reputation as merely an eccentric
> bach specialist, nothing else. i encounter this
> attitude alot, and not just with beethoven. some
> people seem totally unaware of the magnitude of
> goulds' repertoire and recording output. and even if
> they are, many choose to not acknowledge its'
> relevance.
> an example of this is andras schiff remarking that
> goulds' mozart is historically irrelevant....a dubious
> comment if you ask me!
> o.k, we all know that old gould vs. mozart debate, but
> it makes me slightly annoyed when specialists like
> kevin bazzana try to speak for all gould fans by
> saying  only the cultish obssessives thinkgoulds'
> mozart is brilliant. like all art, musical
> interprtation is largely subjective....having heard
> goulds' mozart before brendels' i still think there
> are moments of goulds mozart that are unparalled .
> does that make me a lunatic?!
> take care
> natalie
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