Monday, May 04, 2009

Glenn Gould

Glenn Gould's later recordings got progressively more remote from the real world of error, imperfection and the messiness of life. There is a dead feel to them, a lack of pleasure in the doing. Is this the result of the obsessive editing and tweaking he subjected them to? His search for perfection was ultimately sclerotic. It was no surprise that he died of a stroke. The following from the Canadian Encyclopedia discusses his recording technique.

"Gould became a leading exponent among classical performers of a true aesthetic of recording, which he passionately defended in articles and broadcasts, and practiced in dozens of albums for Columbia/CBS, developing a hands-on expertise in recording techniques.
A studio performer, he felt, need not be concerned with projecting musical effects into an auditorium for the purpose of catching and holding the attention of an audience; rather, he could subject the music to minute inspection of detail at every structural level. Moreover, he could allow the technology itself - placement of microphones, splicing, overdubbing, reverb, etc. - to influence the interpretation, and could defer many final interpretive decisions to the post-production process.
For Gould, recording had fundamentally altered the traditional relationship of composer, performer, and listener. He justified his interpretive experiments in part by arguing that there was no point in making yet another recording of, say, the Emperor Concerto without offering significant departures from conventional readings already available. Outside popular music, no artist to date has expanded the technological possibilities of recorded music, or explored its aesthetic and even ethical implications, more than did Gould."
Canadian Encyclopedia

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