I'm about 100 pages into this re-read, and it so far confirms my original impression that this is the best of the biographies of, and books about, Glenn Gould that I've seen (although several of them are very good).
For me, there is no doubt that Gould is something more than one of the great pianists: Bazzana states that after Gould's first professional recital aged fifteen, his father got a letter from a stranger reporting that her young adult son had been present; and said that although the son had never previously believed in 'a hereafter and a life eternal' - having heard Gould play, the son reported: "Now I know".
Bazzana puts it well:
For all the uncritical idolatry in Gould's reception, those who profess to hear 'something' in his playing are not crazy; often, in fact, they are hearing precisely what Gould intended to communicate. He considered his performances to be not just readings of pieces of music but documents of his world view... He thought that artists had a 'moral mission' and that art had enormous potential for the betterment of human life; as a performer he aimed not only to play well but to do good. The unity of theory and practice does come across in his recordings...
I picked all this up for myself from listening to Gould playing Bach, on a tinny record player, in the solitude of a freezing cold and sordid flat in 1978; at a time when I had not heard a single good word about Gould (the British Establishment critics loathed him); but instead a mass of falsehoods and misrepresentations that implied he couldn't really play (he cheated by having his piano adapted to lighten the action, the recordings of fugues were faked-together from separately played voices etc.).
It is easy to be distracted by the supreme pianistic technique, and the powerful musical intelligence; but what sets Gould apart from any other musician of the recorded era is the spiritual quality; and this is a consequence of Gould's deeply contemplative and Romantic personality, and the ecstatic concentration of his playing which lift it from performance to co-creation.
In fact, I would nowadays characterise what is going-on in terms of Final Participation and Primary Thinking. What we have - in material terms - is at the level of (mere) communication: a recording of a performance, and that recording created in a studio by piecing together of several or many performances - I then listen on imperfect devices, with all my incapacities and preconceptions... and at the end of the day it seems impossible to be sure that what I experience has anything to do with Bach or with Gould.
Thus considered, it seems a trivial or delusional activity; and something which 'we shouldn't take too seriously'; and yet, that has not been my experience over a span of more than forty years.
The way I would prefer to characterise it is in terms Not of communication by of direct knowing. When I am really experiencing the music (in that state termed ecstasy); at that time Bach, Gould, other people, and myself are all - as actual living Beings, here-and-now, experiencing the same 'thinking' - in real time. If it is real knowing, then it is an experience to which we all contribute, actively.
It is an act of creating; going on within the primary ongoing context of divine creation. And presumably all such experiences shape the thinking.
I do Not regard the real music as an unchanging Platonic ideal outside of space and time - that we might take from a library and replay; instead I think that this music exists in the consciousnesses of actual Beings, in their living thinking; and the shared experiences of this thinking.
What makes specifically Gould's Bach (sometimes) real, and my experience of it as real, is that the music was written, performed and listened-to in this state of ecstasy. Only if and when 'we' are all experiencing this ecstatic state (which is Primary Thinking) does direct knowing 'happen'.
The 'communications', the musical score, the piano, recording media, the sound reproduction... all these are acting something like pointers to the real thing - or perhaps something more. As methods for inducing states of intuitive sympathetic resonance between the minds involved (Bach's, Gould's mine etc.).
I suppose this applies to all communications and media; including conversations and social interactions as well as arts. They are ideally (although seldom in practice) means to that end of direct co-creative thinking.