Alan Duncan

chacun voit midi à sa porte

2015-09-05

I’ve been reading: “A Romance on Three Legs: Glenn Gould’s Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Piano” by Katie Hafner. It’s a very sympathetic and well-told history of Canadian pianist Glenn Gould’s relentless search for a piano that matched his uniquely virtuosic style and selection of the repertoire of J.S. Bach. Unsurprisingly, much of what I learned this week came from that book.

Gould’s favorite piano, the one on which he recorded during his most productive studio period was CD 318. It was built during WW 2 and was found at Eaton’s Department Store in Toronto. There it was maintained by his (usually) preferred tuner Verne Edquist who was a nearly blind man from impoverished rural Saskatchewan. The instrument was dropped on the loading dock at Eatons after a trip to Cleveland. Multiple attempts to repair the instrument were unsuccessful. Shortly before his death at age 50, Gould re-recorded the Goldberg Variations - this time on a Yamaha.

Bach published a work Inventions and Sinfonias, BWV 772-801. I learned that the Sinfonias are what I always called Three-part inventions as a child. The Gould recording refers to them that way; but the Dinnerstein recording refers to them as Sinfonia. I learned that Bach intended these for his students as an introduction to playing counterpoint.

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