This was made possible by a combination of a highly detailed and explicit form of musical understanding, astonishingly intense and sustained powers of concentration, and a superb technique.
This goes beyond, is at a higher level than, the question of musical 'interpretation' (with such concerns as tempo, phrasing and fidelity to the score or composer's intentions) - it is simply the primary realisation of music.
Gould was not the greatest pianist - rather he was, in his fashion, the most complete performing musician.
I love those Goldberg Variations and have listened to them over and over with delight. I also like other recorded performances, and have not tried to compare them in detail, but, indeed, whatever Gould's minute "fidelity to the score or composer's intentions" - or not? - may be, it is in some sense a convincingly faithful "primary realisation".
David Llewellyn Dodds
@David - People find it hard to explain, but with Gould at his best, it is almost as if the music is becoming composed and performed at the same time - yet not at all as if it were being improvised; because quite often the effect was 'created' in the recording studio (as with nearly all recordings over the past half century) - the difference being that Gould embraced the creative possibilities of editing, and seemed to be able to do it (in collaboration with a few hand-picked producers) in a way that enhanced the ecstasy of the performance.
BTW you might enjoy my BBC Radio 3 Programme Solitude, Exile and Ecstasy from 1991 - featuring Gould and the 1981 Goldbergs
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