The Well-Tempered Ear

Today is Glenn Gould’s birthday. What’s your favorite recording?

September 25, 2009
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Glenn_Gould_1By Jacob Stockinger

Today (Sept. 25) is the birthday of pianist Glenn Gould, who was born in Canada in 1932 and died in Toronto on Oct. 4, 1982. Had he lived (he died of a stroke at 50), Gould would be 77.

Along with Rubinstein, Horowitz and Richter, Gould remains one of the most famous classical pianists of the 20th century.

He was known for his personal and musical eccentricities (people today speculate that he had the Asperger’s Syndrome form of autism) and for his pioneering recordings of Bach, which left out repeats and used no pedal, emphasizing a detached harpsichord-like touch.

Not very many people can do two completely different performances of Bach’s mammoth “Goldberg” Variations and make both of them thoroughly original and equally convincing. Gould did, at the beginning and end of his career.

But aside from Bach (which he was in the process of re-recording when he died), he did some other interesting work (though many say his Mozart and Beethoven are best avoided.)

I particularly like the album he did of pre-Baroque masters William Byrd and Orlando Gibbons. And I like his interpretations of late Brahms intermezzi, which are rich in polyphony.

If you get a chance, see “32 Short Films About Glenn Gould.” It’s as fascinating as he is.

I still love Gould’s Bach. But I have also moved on to somewhat richer, more pianistic interpretations. These days, I am partial to Till Fellner (the Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1 and the Two- and Three-part Inventions), Andras Schiff (French and English Suites) and Richard Goode (the Partitas).

Still, Gould brought the piano back to Bach, or Bach back to the piano.

What do you think of Glenn Gould?

What is your favorite recording of his?

The Ear wants to hear.


Posted in Classical music

Farley’s Pianos offers concerts tonight and Saturday; ‘Ear’ passes 1,500 hits

September 25, 2009
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By Jacob Stockinger

You just  know that Madison is serious about classical music when even a piano dealer offers a memorable concert series.

Such is the case this weekend at Farley’s House of Pianos, located at 6522 Seybold Road, on Madison’s far west side, off South Gammon Road and not too far from West Towne.

Tonight (Friday, Sept. 25) at 7 p.m., soprano Crystal Buck (below right) and pianist Greg Punswick will perform a salon concert called “Ain’t It a Pretty Night.” The program features vocal music by Handel, Donizetti, Massenet, Bizet, Schubert, Strauss, Barab and Floyd. crystalbuck_web_100x150

Moreover, the concert is FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.

Now that is a full-service place of business.

What a way to open the fall music season, no?

Then on Saturday night, Sept. 26, at 8 p.m., cellist Amit Peled and pianist Eli Kalman (who did graduate work at the UW-Madison and is quite well known to – and respected by — Madison audiences and fellow musicians) will perform an all-Russian program of Prokofiev’s Sonata in C Major, Op. 119; Shostakovich’s Sonata in D Minor, Op. 40; and Rachmaninoff’s Sonata in G Minor, op. 19. (The duo is pictured at right.) That’s one big helping of Slavic soul.peled-and-kalman_web

Tickets are $25, $20 for student and seniors.

For information and tickets, call 608 271-2626.

Here’s a link to Farley’s where you can read reviews, see upcoming events and sign up for e-mail updates about concerts , piano sales and other events: http://www.farleyspianos.com/pages/events_main.html

IN OTHER NEWS: Thank you, viewers and readers. The Well-Tempered Ear passed 1,500 hits about 6:30 Wednesday night. That’s a full week ahead of the goal to get 1,500 by the end of September. (The Ear was launched Aug. 20 and it took until Sept. 7 – Labor Day, appropriately – to surpass 500 hits.)

So it seems to be catching on at an increasing rate.

So let’s shoot for 3,500 hits by the end of October.

What have been your favorite postings so far?

Do you have any suggestions for topics?

Other advice or criticism?

The Ear wants to hear.


Posted in Classical music

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