Sibelius/Bizet/Grieg

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Sibelius/Bizet/Grieg
LABELS: Sony
WORKS: Sonatinas, Op. 67; Kyllikki – Three Lyric Pieces; Piano Sonata, Op. 7; Variations chromatiques; Premier nocturne
PERFORMER: Glenn Gould (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: SM2K 52645 ADD Reissue
Gould is as radical in his approach to this lesser-known repertory as he is in his interpretations of Mozart and Beethoven. He is at his most interventionist in the Sibelius sonatinas, which he uses as the basis for an experiment in what his producer Andrew Kazdin termed ‘acoustic orchestration’. This involved recording the music with microphones placed at varying distances so that Gould, who was fascinated with recording technology, could create an edited ‘performance’ with artificial perspectives introduced at what he considered appropriate points.

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Gould limits his interpretative manipulation to the keyboard for the Grieg and for the Bizet variations, which he declared ‘one of the very few masterpieces for solo piano to emerge from the third quarter of the 19th century’. The playing features the usual Gouldisms, including extremes of tempi and pointillistic use of staccato, mixed in with a truly awesome display of technical ability. Any suggestion of Romantic performance style is minimised, and the piano sound is characteristically monochrome.

Long-term Gould addicts will find these discs fascinating and the rating below is for them. Those who already have doubts about whether Gould is good for them should stay well away.

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David Michaels