Canadian pianist Stewart Goodyear celebrates Glenn Gould’s 1952 Montreal debut performance on this album. Goodyear has always been motivated by Gould’s incredible musical legacy and finally has been able to compile a recording that truly shows his gratitude.
“It was the year Glenn Gould died when I first heard his legendary name. It was his Bach that introduced me to his playing. His sound struck me immediately…a sound that was compelling and uncompromising. It was not designed to speak words of mere prettiness, but of an individual truth.
Was Gould cerebral or emotional? One heard in his interpretations a mind passionately fierce in its convictions. His concert programs were striking. To the concertgoer used to seeing a program of Beethoven, Chopin and Liszt, Gould’s programs of Gibbons, Sweelinck, Bach, Webern, and Berg must have seemed daunting on paper.
I had the great honor of performing that exact program, the same program with which Gould presented his US debut at the Phillips Collection, and his debut at the Ladies Morning Music Club in Montreal. Never had a concert program made so much sense to me. I hope the audience would say the same…I know my spirits were lifted playing this program.
My favorite recording of Glenn Gould is his album of Brahms’ Intermezzi. I felt, through that recording, that I got closer to understanding who Gould was as an artist. In the composers discussed before, I heard Gould the passionate theorist, dancer, and singer. In Brahms, I finally heard Gould, the salon artist, the homebody cozying up in his summer home in Lake Simcoe.
My decision to record Glenn Gould’s program came right after performing it in Montreal. While paying homage to one of the great Canadian legends, I was being transported to childhood memories of growing up in Toronto, Gould’s hometown, studying at the Royal Conservatory, Gould’s home alma mater, and being an artist from Canada, Gould’s country.”
Total time: 01:06:08
Horus (recording), Hapi (mastering) from Merging Technologies
Mixed and mastered on Legacy Audio speakers
|Original Recording Format|
Sono Luminus Studios, Boyce, Virginia on May 15-17, 2017
Pyramix from Merging Technologies
|Recording Type & Bit Rate||
|Release Date||March 23, 2018|
The Absolute Sound
On a Sunday afternoon in January 1955 23-year-old Glenn Gould played his U.S. debut recital at the Phillips Collection in Washington, DC. This highly idiosyncratic program included music by Gibbons (Lord Salisbury’s Pavan), Sweelinck (Fantasia in D), Bach (five Sinfonias and the Partita No. 5), and Berg (Piano Sonata) as well as the Webern Variations and Beethoven’s E Major Sonata, Op. 109.
Stewart Goodyear performed this exact program at the Phillips museum in 2016 and recorded most of it, substituting for the Beethoven and Webern pieces two Brahms Intermezzi and, to close poignantly, the “Aria” from the Goldberg Variations.
Goodyear doesn’t attempt to mimic Gould’s style but demonstrates the same technical assurance and clarifying intelligence. The Bach is brisk and crisp and the ornamentation with the Gibbons piece is tightly coiled. The Brahms selections are robustly songful.
If the concept and execution of this release aren’t appealing enough, Goodyear’s program was engineered by Daniel Shores at the Sono Luminus studios in Boyce, Virginia, the source of some of the finest piano recordings on earth.
The Whole Note
Stewart Goodyear’s new album For Glenn Gould (Sono Luminus DSL 92220) is an expression of Goodyear’s deep admiration of Gould’s music and his peculiar take on just about everything. The disc includes a generous amount of Bach, some Sweelinck, Gibbons, Brahms, and Alban Berg. The pieces represent a selection of works that Gould chose for his debuts in Montreal and Washington. Far from being an imitation of Gould’s keyboard style, Goodyear’s recording seeks to recognize the genius behind the programming, by which Gould included works that bore some relationship to each other.
The striking feature of Goodyear’s playing is the authenticity and stylistic confidence he brings to each piece. From the early Baroque through Bach, Brahms and Berg, Goodyear plays with a keen ear for clarity, whether structural or melodic. The Bach Sinfonia No.8 in F Major, BWV 794 is an excellent example of this. His technique is crisp, incisive yet fluid.
The two Brahms Intermezzi, Op.118, No.2 and Op.119, No.3 come from what Goodyear believes was Gould’s best recording. In it, Gould reveals himself as the salon artist looking for the most intimate expression of his music. The recording studio became the ultimate refuge for Gould’s flight from the public stage. Accordingly, Goodyear admits that his studio time with this album was intended to recreate that intimacy. Like Gould, Goodyear is careful with his tempi and always lets the forward movement of a phrase govern the amount of hesitation and drama he applies.
For Glenn Gould is a unique, creative project, and played brilliantly.
Ludwig Van Tornoto
Toronto’s Stewart Goodyear was a piano prodigy. He has been composing his own music since childhood. There’s an element of the showman about him, on the surface. But deep down, he is a sensible, serious pianist who is his latest album has created a wonderful tribute to the legendary Glenn Gould.
Goodyear has reconstituted a couple of Gould’s youthful recital programs and, instead of interpreting the music in the style of Gould, provides his own clear-headed renderings that make as much sense as the original, yet sound only like Goodyear.
The result is a pleasure from beginning to end. I would like to boldly suggest that Goodyear does a better job will all of the music as a whole than Gould was ever capable of doing.
The album, arranged chronologically, begins with Lord Salisbury’s Pavan and Galliard by late-Renaissance composer Orlando Gibbons, then segues smoothly into a Fantasia in D Major by Jan Sweelinck. We hear five of the short, simple Sinfonias by J.S. Bach, interpreted with the care and craft of much more complex pieces of music, followed by the full Partita No. 5 for solo keyboard, with its whimsical, theatrical “Preambulum.”
As was typical of Gould’s avoidance of 18th century and early 19th-century music, we jump to the late-Romantic intimacies of Johannes Brahms Intermezzi. Goodyear has chosen two: Op. 118, No. 2 and Op. 117, No. 3.
Gould did as much for the early 20th-century music of atonal pioneer Alban Berg as he did for Bach. Goodyear gives us a powerfully compelling performance of Berg’s single-movement Piano Sonata No. 1. As he plays Berg’s remarkably traditional counterpoints, Goodyear imbues the music with shape as well as drama. Time is being kind to this piece, and it makes for engaging listening at Goodyear’s hands.
The pianist is much gentler with Brahms. Like Gould, Goodyear clearly lays out Brahms’ careful interweaving of musical themes. But unlike Gould, he gives the two pieces a gentle, caring touch.
The Bach pieces don’t sound a bit like Gould either. Parts of the Partita are very briskly paced, to make this listener gape in awe at Goodyear’s technical skills. But the approach is clear-headed, balancing the voices perfectly so that the listener can make the decision about which voice to focus on.
Most of the pieces on this album are not part of the mainstream classical repertoire, but Goodyear — as did Gould back in his day — makes a convincing case that each one should be. Best of all, the album, works like a fine recital carrying the listener forward effortlessly, willingly to a faraway destination as surprising at it is pleasurable.
It was in 1981, the year Glenn Gould died, that Canadian pianist Stewart Goodyear remembers at the age of three first hearing the name mentioned and, like most fans, it was Gould’s recordings of Bach that were to make a huge impression on the boy. They never met, but the two musicians are linked by geography, with Goodyear having grown up in Gould’s hometown Toronto and then studying at his alma mater, the Royal Conservatory.
As a tribute to his great compatriot Goodyear has recorded a wonderful re-imagining of Gould’s 1955 US debut recital, a program he also played for the splendidly named Ladies Morning Music Club in Montreal. Brilliantly performed and recorded, this nostalgic gem shows what an original genius Gould was, starting his program with Orlando Gibbons then progressing through to Sweelinck (not a household name in Montreal, one suspects), Bach (of course) to Brahms and – boldly but beautifully – Berg’s ravishing Sonata No 1. The glacé cherry on the top of the ladies’ club’s sponge cake was – what else? – the Aria from Bach’s Goldberg Variations.
“Never had a concert program made so much sense to me,” Goodyear says. “I know my spirits were lifted playing this program.” And so should yours be as well, and all of this without a hum or grunt to be heard!
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