|This montage from our Podcast Vault revisits a post from June 21, 2014. It can be found in our archives at https://archive.org/details/pcast161|
This week’s Podcast Vault selection is from June of 2014, marking what was then the 60th anniversary of Glenn Gould’s first recorded performance of the Goldberg Variations – a broadcast performance from the CBC archives.
A year later, in 1955, Gould recorded the Goldberg Variations for Columbia records, his breakthrough work. Although there was some controversy at Columbia about the appropriateness of this "debut" piece, the record received phenomenal praise and was among the best-selling classical music albums of its era. Gould became closely associated with the piece, playing it in full or in part at many recitals. A new recording of the Goldberg Variations, made in 1981, would be among his last albums; the piece was one of only a few he recorded twice in the studio. The 1981 release was one of CBS Masterworks' first digital recordings. The 1955 interpretation is highly energetic and often frenetic; the later is slower and more deliberate —the 1954 CBC performance, I find, sits som ewhere between the two.
Gould revered J.S. Bach, stating that the Baroque composer was "first and last an architect, a constructor of sound, and what makes him so inestimably valuable to us is that he was beyond a doubt the greatest architect of sound who ever lived". He recorded most of Bach's other keyboard works, including both books of The Well-Tempered Clavier and the Partitas, French Suites, English Suites, Inventions and Sinfonias, keyboard concertos, and a number of toccatas (which interested him least, being less polyphonic).
As our bonus filler, I chose his studio recording (1963-64) of the two and three-part inventions. We can compare these with tracks from the CBC broadcast.