Gould hits the wrong keys

October 4, 2007

A Finn who feels depressed over coming from a small country may feel enlarged by listening to the music of Jean Sibelius.

A German who feels homesick for Germany can put on a Wagner recording to make himself feel more at home. For that matter, an Israeli citizen who feels lonely and neglected can quickly find himself getting a lot of a attention by playing some Richard’s music on a Jerusalem street.

For that matter, if I suddenly feel the need for some fresh air in a hurry, I can quickly find myself outside the little house in the middle sized woods by putting on a bit of the Ring cycle on our CD player.

I don’t know that my wife is particularly familiar with or very interested in Wagner’s amiable views on race, or for that matter, the story of his very happy marriage; her hatred of his music is quite pure—she simply can’t stand it.

Unlike the small country of Finland, Canada has lots of physical territory, but not a lot of musical acclaim.

As we live fairly close to Canada, my wife mostly listens to the CBC2 radio network, which plays quite a bit of classical music. Without an abundance of Canadian classical music superstars, the CBC disk jockeys feel a need to play lots of Glenn Gould recordings, while announcing their selections in tones of hushed adoration. Recently, this tendency hit a climax in a two-week series focusing on his music.

I usually know when my wife is not very happy by the steam filling our living room. I asked her, “What don’t you like about Glenn Gould?”

“He sounds like a student who knows how to hit the notes, but plays without expressing any emotion,” she began as she launched into an extensive riff on the deficiencies and offenses of his musical performances.

David, it sounds as if your antenna picked up at least some of the same frequencies as my wife picks up. Kyle, please don’t take offense.



5 Responses to “Gould hits the wrong keys”

  1. renaissanceguy Says:

    I don’t take offense. I find Gould’s piano interpretations eccentric, and therefore fresh and interesting. I don’t accept the idea that there is one way to play Beethoven or Mozart or Bach or any other composer. When I hear Gould’s renditions, I feel that he put himself entirely into the music.

  2. renaissanceguy Says:

    I can’t believe he has been dead so long. It just doesn’t seem like this much time has passed since then.

  3. Are you sure that your wife and I aren’t related?

  4. alchemyst42 Says:

    Gould put “emotion” into his pieces, but probably not the kind most people are used to from other interpreters. There was a guy on Amazon reviewing the WTC who said that Gould sounds mechanical, and another reviewer that found his recordings too personal… it’s sorta interesting.

    Personally I think there’s a lot of emotion in his playing, and I wouldn’t be into Bach or even classical/baroque if it weren’t for Gould’s music.

  5. modestypress Says:

    As a person with a not very sensitive ear for music and a not very sensitive palate for wine, etc., it is impressive how many more distinctions and subtleties other people perceive that tend to escape me.

    This is not a put down or a reverse snobbery, just s simple statement of fact.

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