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On of the best performance of the Concerto No. 4
If you have forgotten, or never knew, what lyrical piano playing Glenn Gould was capable of, get this superb transfer from HDTT and be overwhelmed by the way it restores the naturalness and immediacy of Gould’s wholly unique artistry and opens up the space around the orchestra. Charles Rosen called the opening “at once poetically resonant and reticent”: as few others Gould knew the secret of that and goes on to create pure magic with it again later when he arrives at the recapitulation (10:59). Playing throughout is poetic and powerful at the same time, textures are crystal clear but warm, driven by Gould’s unflagging imagination, and his way of bringing out the left hand a pure delight (e.g., 6:17 and again 13:37!). Strangely enough, the prosaic one here is Bernstein. Listen for example to Gould’s sublime transition at 09:45 as he trims his double forte down to pianissimo over the 2-bar trills and slides effortlessly into Gouldian lyrical mode: celli and basses steal in beautifully pizzicato with the main 4-note motif but four bars later Bernstein already sounds, well, “prosaic.” Gould’s Andante con moto is no “Orpheus in Hades”, but for the way he refuses to stick to piano, sounds almost defiant. Of course HDTT makes all the difference for the strong natural base line we’re getting here, both from piano and orchestra, with Bernstein fully in harmony with his soloist this time and responding, after all, with a rich and diversified orchestral palette, especially in the tuttis. By the end of the Rondo you’ll be pressing the repeat button.