January 27, 2008

W. A. Mozart

The last person that many people would prefer to hear playing Mozart — aside from Louis Farrakhan — is the late Canadian pianist Glenn Gould.

While Gould recorded all of Mozart's 17 sonatas for solo piano, he often performed them either agonizingly slowly or else so ridiculously uptempo as to make a mockery of them, in some instances rendering them almost unrecognizable compared to the traditional interpretations of Mitsuko Uchida, Daniel Barenboim, and the rest.

In any event, here's a snippet of Gould playing and discussing the theme and variations from Mozart's Piano Sonata in A, Kv 331:

Gould plays Mozart

Notice that Gould sarcastically refers to the more widely acknowledged tempi as the "Hollywood With Strings" versions.

It's frequently lamented among music lovers that Mozart, who was born on this day in 1756 and who succumbed to rheumatic fever in 1791 at the age of 35, died too soon. Gould, on the other hand, notoriously commented that Mozart "was a bad composer who died too late rather than too early." As one of the most gifted and remarkable musicians of the 20th century, Gould could get away with those sorts of observations. Unfortunately, Gould himself was only 50 when he left us in 1982.

Since Mozart by all accounts enjoyed a good joke, here's some dude performing the third movement of the same work on a guitar:

Rondo: alla Turca


Anonymous said...

I went looking for it, but couldn't find, the Bach recording where he can be heard humming to himself. A little help?

illusory tenant said...

Hi Anon. Did you have some particular piece in mind? You can hear Gould humming on just about every recording, at some point.

Here's a link to a fairly comprehensive selection:

Glenn Gould's Bach recordings

That's at Amazon.com, so you can click on the individual CDs and get directed to pages where you can listen to samples.

Hope that helps!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info. I went on a Gould kick after the movie, but now with the Internets in full swing, can dive in even deeper. What a nut, and I mean that as a compliment.

illusory tenant said...

Yer welcome. The movie ... Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould, you mean? Interesting flick, for sure.