Monday, March 24, 2008

Angela Hewitt and Glenn Gould - Apples and Oranges?

While listening to Bach played by the legendary Glenn Gould, I decided to listen as well to parts of the same music recorded by the great young pianist Angela Hewitt, also a Canadian as Gould was.
I became intrigued by the world of difference between the two. What they had to 'say' in their performances was equally powerful to me, and so I decided to place various pieces of the Bach Partitas back-to-back on a CD so that I could hear both artists in a contiguous form. The result, for me, was a defining experience. Gould replicates the spirit of the High Baroque in his wonderfully controlled attack-form which reminds one of the harpsichord. Hewitt brings Bach into the direct context of the modern piano's capabilities, which results in a greater degree of inflection and tempo plasticity . She evidently feels that Bach would have embraced the modern piano, knowing that instruments are in constant change; perhaps, that is the reason that he left virtually no tempo or dynamic indications for the keyboard music.
Whichever school of Bach-playing is agreed upon, the powers of both Gould and Hewitt are undeniable forces.
Listen to them back-to-back, and consider "who is better," or are we comparing apples and oranges?

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Blogger Weller said...

Hi, nice blog you have here!

I'm currently doing exactly the same thing. A friend recently lent me Hewitt's recording of 48 fugues and preludes, and i'm comparing them to Gould.

Before listening, my bias is towards Gould, as I've been a convert by the way of his 1981 Goldberg recording.

When I listen to Gould, you're right to say 'attack'. Gould is definitely more aggressive, cerebral. Hewitt is more inclusive (and saner) in her application of more orthodox tempos and dynamics. But there's a lot more to the music of both than just these points.

Hewitt will take me time to appreciate on her own terms, which is what she deserves, along with all interpretations of music really. So I'd say there's definitely some apple and orange action going here.

February 1, 2009 at 4:10 AM  

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