The Author's Opinion on Glenn Gould's WTC I

Version 1.0 of 16/3/2009-1:00 a.m.


Ratings:
Excellent: ****
Good: ***
Bad: **
Disaster:*
  1. Prelude Fugue
  2. **      ***
  3. **      ***
  4. ***     ***
  5. ***     *
  6. *       *
  7. *       *
  8. *       ***
  9. *       **
  10. ****    ****
  11. **      ***
  12. **      ***
  13. **      ****
  14. **      ***
  15. ***     ***
  16. **      ***
  17. ***     **
  18. ***     ***
  19. **      **
  20. **      *
  21. *       ****
  22. ***     ***
  23. *       *
  24. ****    ****
  25. **      *

Averages:
---------
Preludes: 2.1666666667/4 = **
Fugues: 2.5416666667/4 = ***
Total: 2.3541666667/4 = **

Comments:

  1. Prelude, weird. "Staccato" on the chord repeats right hand and then the Staccato changes to Legato in other bars? Fugue gets the "dreaded Staccato" treatment again but better than the Prelude, overall. Not enough energy here. Gould has just woken up from a bad evening sleep.
  2. This is another sleeping beauty. The notes in the first beat are supposed to be accented, and the rest NOT Staccato. TOO SLOW! This is Allegro, not a Lullaby! Momentum should be at least twice as fast with Presto part killing an elephant. On the Fugue, at last, Staccato is needed in the countersubject and G surely does his best to sprinkle it all over. But he makes a mistake in the left hand of bar 25, and ruins the piece.
  3. This would be a 4 stars if he did not end it in a weird way. Ending is Forte!, not like the whole prelude has withered away to death! Fugue almost excellent, would be 4 stars if G did not over sprinkle it with too much Staccato again! This one is probably one of the best fugues of Book I. He does nice things with the theme and with the countersubjects after bars 48-50.
  4. Prelude is almost ok, although not too emotional. G is here getting ready to destroy the fugue and takes appropriate measures to prepare us through the prelude. Fugue, a disaster. Speed ok, but what's with the Staccato in the first countersubject? LOUD Staccatos in left hand? Help! Third countersubject arbitrarily changes from serious to "Giocosso". This is a Moderato fugue, one of the most important ones in Book I and G makes sure he adds his own playful/circus style to it.
  5. A sadly disastrous pair. In the Prelude, G decides to make the left hand notes "theme-like" and completely destroys the ending. What's with the LOUD LEFT HAND NOTES in bars 3, 8, 15 and before the cadenza? Ending "Piano"? Fugue, another disaster. Staccato strikes again, this time in the 12-th theme note, destroying the theme. G is having an orgasm in bars 21-22 and he is too loud there. Bar before the ending has improper Staccato phrasing for every other sixteenth? Amazing surgical change of profile of both pieces.
  6. Prelude would be almost perfect if G did not surgically alter the "Forte" ending. Hidden voices of this intricately complex multivoice Prelude come out nicely, but G destroys the piece's momentum at the end with a "Piano-Mystico". Fugue, a disaster! Theme TOO LOUD! Theme Staccato? Unheard of! Ending "Piano"? This Fugue is supposed to be "Andante Espressivo", not march-like!
  7. Prelude a disaster. The only good part is the "Un poco meso organo" (middle part) in which, admittedly an organ-like style comes out. The rest (first part and fugatto) are disastrous. His "Staccato" style completely undermine both. This prelude is supposed to be "come Organo". Not "Come Xylophono". No comments here. Fugue good.
  8. Prelude almost ok, but could be much much better. Momentum could have been kept in left hand notes, but here there is none. Piece withers away in bars 32, 33, 34. Fugue almost a disaster. Starts nicely, but G  does not forget his "Staccato" upbringing, which again ruins it. This is supposed to be "Andante Sostenuto", not "Giocosso". However, if one excludes the dreaded Staccato, he does some nice things in the Stretto sections.
  9. The first perfect pair of book I. Fugue perfect. His piano here has assumed the role of the conqueror, with this peculiar "pedal" sound. The fugue says "Poco-Legato" again, but his Staccato here is well deserved as a function of his speed and his expression. Momentum! Theme comes out "Energico" in bar 19! Bravo.
  10. Prelude, a disaster. "Staccato" in the left hand??! Amazing. Initial phrasing in the left hand, good, but can't get good idea about the whole piece with Staccato left hand phrases! Momentum ok, crescendo ok, crux in "un poco accelerando and presto" sections would be excellent if it wasn't for the damn Staccato which now creeps into the right hand as well. Fugue very good. Would get a 4 if G did not destroy it with a "Piano" ending.
  11. Where are the full trills? These are supposed to be full crown trills which go all the way to the end of the corresponding bar. Shame. G must have been bored here. Fugue good, but G does his best to end it "Piano". Themes come out nicely.
  12. Prelude almost a disaster. What's with the "Lulluby" Style? TOO SLOW! Puts listener to sleep! Otherwise ok. Fugue very good. Themes come out ok, has nice momentum, albeit a bit fast. It is obvious G here is making an effort to keep the "Staccato" to a minimum, so we should give him credit for this. Expressive and elegiaco. Very nice!
  13. Prelude theme notes arbitrarily "Staccato". This is supposed to be "Allegretto", not "Boring-etto". Fugue nice. Does nice things with semi-quavers in left hand, although some of the "nice-things" are again, "Staccato".
  14. Prelude good, although ending "Piano"? Almost forgiven. Fugue good, although a bit slow. Polyphony nice and it is "con severa esspressione", as it should be. No "Staccato" for a change!
  15. On the Prelude, G picks up the speeding race now. This is a clear show-off. Shame on you G. Difficult Prelude, but could have been slower and much more interesting. Fugue good, polyphony ok, theme stands out ok in the left hand, but probably a bit overdone sometimes. "Staccato" in its proper place for a change.
  16. Prelude would be perfect if G did not do a minor alteration of the ending from f to p again. Fugue bad. ALL fugue theme instances are supposed to be "Forte". The momentum of this fugue is incredible, yet G manages to turn it into ordinary primadona singing. Stretto "Piano"? Amazing. Shame G. Stereo pan enters in last bars as pan man circles around G.
  17. Ok, this Prelude is good and "scherzoso". "Staccato" has a place here. Does nice things with trills and makes it espressivo where it should be. Fugue would be excellent, if it only wasn't for the dreaded "Staccato" on the 5th and 6th notes of the theme and the "Piano" ending.
  18. More "Allegretto" is needed here. This tends to put the listener to sleep. Theme voices could come out more. "Espressivo" does not mean "Lentamente". Fugue, TOO FAST!! This is "Grave/Pesante"!! Not a speeding race! Speed destroys the last two theme entries!
  19. Amazing surgical operations by G again here on the Prelude theme and on the Fugue. Second part of the Prelude theme is supposed to be "Legatissimo". Has some "graziozo" character however. Fugue destroyed by "Staccato". No comments here. He could have made this into a marvel, but he is completely missing the point.
  20. Prelude a disaster. This has a "vivace e deciso" Momentum! It's not "espressivo" or a lullaby. This prelude should break the piano. Ends in an amazing "Piano"! Unforgivable. The Fugue is good. Why is it that G likes super complex fugues? It shows, although he tends to destroy this by too much "Staccato". He gets a 4 because the Fugue is one of the hardest in both books.
  21. This is supposed to be fast, but not a star trip to Alpha Centauri! Forgiven because he does some nice "espressivo" things with the chords, although some might disagree here. Fugue excellent. "Staccato" has a place here. Good "scherzoso" style. Expression! Allegretto, and themes are unobtrusive and come out. Builds up with "Fortissimo", but ends again in "Piano". Damn!
  22. Both disasters. Prelude is indeed "Lamentoso" and was written as a post mortem for a friend, but G turns it into a boring slow death. TOO SLOW!! "Lamentoso" does NOT imply "Largamente"!! Fugue is boring to death. This is one of the most complex fugues in book I and G turns it into a Wagnerian lament. Shame.
  23. These two are excellent. Perhaps the second perfect pair of book I. Let us forgive the "Piano" ending of the fugue on this one.
  24. Both bad. Prelude left hand should be "come organo", not "come banjo". Fugue should be "Largo" and has intricate "phrasing" in the theme notes. G transforms this into a kid's song with the "Staccato" in the theme notes. Inexcusable.

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