Thirty years after the death of a piano genius, we ask: can any other pianist match him?
I f you type “Goldberg Variations” into Google, the first search result that will come up is a Wikipedia article on JS Bach’s keyboard work; the second is another Wikipedia article devoted to Glenn Gould’s 1955 recording of it; the third is a display of “videos for Goldberg Variations” – all being extracts of Gould’s second recording of the Goldbergsin 1981.
Gould, Gould, Gould. It’s not too much of a stretch to conclude that in the public eye, Goldberg Variations= Gould. The Canadian pianist’s Goldbergshave inspired several transcriptions of the piece for other instruments, as well as original compositions such as Christos Hatzis’s Gouldberg Variationsand a short story by Richard Powers ( The Gold Bug Variations). Heck, even Hannibal Lecter requested Gould’s, and specifically Gould’s, Goldbergs in The Silence of the Lambs– if the tastes of fictional psychopaths are a measure of cultural currency.
While few would contest Gould’s popular link to the work, many would disagree that Gould “owns” the Goldbergs; indeed, many musicians believe his Goldbergsdon’t deserve to be ranked...