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  Sony Classical -
  SS 06141
  Bach: Italian Concerto, Partitas - Glenn Gould
  Bach: Italian Concerto in F Major, Partitas Nos. 1, 2

Glenn Gould (piano)
Track listing:
  Classical - Instrumental
  Single Layer
Recording type:
Recording info:
  SRGR716 in Japan.

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Related titles: 3

Reviews: 2

Site review by Christine Tham January 7, 2006
Performance:   Sonics:
This recording featuring Bach's Italian Concerto and the first two Partitas for keyboard are probably one of Glenn Gould's most accessible and easy to digest interpretations, so it's no surprise that Sony has chosen it for re-mastering on SA-CD.

Canadian pianist Glenn Gould first became famous for his daring interpretation of Bach's Goldberg Variations on his debut album with Columbia. Featuring unusual tempis for some of the variations, crystal clear playing, and a dazzling technical virtuosity (especially in the way he played some variations lightning fast), the overall performance made many people see the work with completely new eyes. Even jaded connoisseurs found fresh insights in a seemingly rigid and formal piece of music and a performance that seemed to go against convention for piano interpretations of Bach keyboard works.

Well, much of that is on this album as well, but in pieces that are easier for non-Bach fans to digest and appreciate. Glenn plays the piano more like a harpsichord, deliberately avoiding extreme dynamics and maintaining fairly strict rhythm. The result are melodies that soar in spite of the rigid performance, and the phrasing is so clear all the individual polyphonic parts come through with perfect clarity. The fast passages (particularly Third Movement (Presto) of the Italian Concerto are as breathtaking as ever, and Glenn's annoying vocalisations (very prominent in some of his later albums) are thankfully kept to a minimum.

The first track contains some fairly distracting clicks (background noise rather than a fault of the mastering) in the left channel during the opening bars. Hiss is omnipresent, with a timbre that seems to vary constantly, which some may find distracting.

Compared to the CD version (I used the latest release that I could find, which is part of a box set called The Original Jacket Collection: Glenn Gould Plays Bach). The CD version seems to make Glenn's vocalise a little more prominent (which could be an indication it is better mastered) but the performance SA-CD version seems to flow a little more organically.

Glenn Gould fans of course need no encouragement to buy this album on SA-CD. But it is an excellent introduction to Bach and also to the talent of Glenn Gould if you are unfamiliar with either.

Review by canonical February 28, 2009 (2 of 6 found this review helpful)
The previous reviewer starts by suggesting:
" ... it's no surprise that Sony has chosen it for re-mastering on SA-CD"

I, by contrast, find it perplexing and questionable. Gould famously hated the Italian Concerto - and rightly so in my view. I find it to be (for Bach) trite, obvious, lacking in complexity or depth, and ultimately just irritating. And if Gould hated it, why re-release it? Why not release something he actually loved?

I would be very interested to hear the small selection of partitas on this SACD (even though I have them on standard CD), though it seems difficult to justify buying the whole SACD for same.

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Works: 3  

Johann Sebastian Bach - Italienisches (Italian) Concerto in F, BWV 971 (Clavier-Übung II)
Johann Sebastian Bach - Partita No. 1 in B flat major, BWV 825 (Clavier-Übung I)
Johann Sebastian Bach - Partita No. 2 in C minor, BWV 826 (Clavier-Übung I)