Monday, April 26, 2010


Illus: One to One via GoesAry

In a studio, where the pickup is close to the piano, you can achieve a very similar effect to that which the listener enjoys at home. The relationship of the piano to a microphone which is, let’s say, eight feet away is very similar to the relationship between the listener at home and his speakers. There’s a one-to-one aspect in both situations. But no such relationship exists when one is sitting on a stage, like the Tchaikovsky Hall in Moscow, and projecting a Bach Partita to the first row of seats and to the top balcony simultaneously.

So the result was that the record made in the summer of 1957 [just after Gould concluded a far-reaching European tour] is a very glib, facile effort, because a series of little party tricks which just don’t need to be there had been added to the piece. Now the interesting thing is that, at the same time, I also recorded the Sixth Partita, which I had played very rarely in public. I did play it once in the Soviet Union, and, I think, maybe once or twice in Canada and the States prior to that tour, but no more. Then I recorded it, and that’s a good recording. No party tricks.

Pianist Glen Gould in an 1975 interview in Toronto, reprinted by the inimitable Lapham's Quarterly.

I read Gould's account of why he preferred to record in a studio compared to performing to an audience a little while back, and it's rattled around in my brain relentlessly, alongside William Gibson's observation (as cited by mrtn) that blogging while trying to write a novel is like "boiling water with the lid off".

The collected cacophony of these two is probably why I haven't blogged the stories that are shouting for my attention now, the hard ones, the ones that have been sleeping a long time and now seem ready to run. But it is why I booked a room of my own, as a birthday present to myself, where for four days I plan to write.

With the lid on.

It won't be enough, but it will be a start.

Video: Glen Gould plays J.S.Bach's Partita #2

1 comment:

Bonita said...

Congrats, 4 days in room that sounds deluxe!!
You go!

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