Tuesday Evening Melody: “Aria da Capo” from Glenn Gould 1981 Goldberg Variations
by Nancy Rosenbaum, producer
“I wonder what the orchestra music was that punctuated this story from time to time.”
We think Chase is referring to Glenn Gould’s 1981 version of the “Aria da Capo” of Bach’s Goldberg Variations.
Some of Gould’s biographers have speculated that he may have had Asperger’s syndrome. Gould was sensitive to noise and temperature; he hated the sound of clapping and wore a hat, coat, and gloves, even in warm weather. He was also known for rocking and humming when he played. He stopped giving public concerts at the age of 32.
Gould preferred his 1981 rendition rather than his earlier recording from 1955. According to music critic Tim Page who interviewed Gould about the two versions, the 1981 recording “has a certain sadness and sense of reflectiveness… an autumnal quality.” As it turns out, Gould was in the autumn of his own life as these later recordings were being produced; he died of a stroke at the age of 50, just before the 1981 recording was released.
If you want to compare the two versions, check out the show’s playlist for the 1955 version. Which one do you prefer?
Photo courtesy of Library and Archives Canada.
Tuesday Evening Melody: Philip Glass “The Play of the Wrathful and Peaceful Deities”
by Trent Gilliss, senior editor
There’s no other composer quite like him. Philip Glass summons the inner strength — the power and majesty — and the vulnerable adult who is always a child inside. His music stirs something primal; he reminds of us of our vulnerability. His music compels us to remember how profound we all can be, even when we can’t feel or say one remarkable word.
I’ve been moved by “Mad Rush” on several occasions, but I had no idea of the back story until now. It was originally written for the organ, which I encourage you to listen to, but the reason it was written is just as interesting. Glass tells the story this way:
“In 1979, most of us didn’t really know very much about His Holiness the Dalai Lama. We weren’t sure exactly when he would arrive, though there was a time specified. I was asked to compose a piece of somewhat indefinite length. Not actually a problem for me. I played in the organ; I’ve become very comfortable with this as a piano piece.
It eventually acquired the name “Mad Rush,” which had nothing to do with its original purpose but… For those who are interested in the Tibetan iconography of Tibetan Buddhism, you might think of it as the play of the wrathful and peaceful deities.”
You can watch Glass’ performance of “Mad Rush” at the Garrison Institute on April 13, 2008 at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine in New York City.
(Hats off to findout for reminding me of this exquisite piece!)
The Golden Tones of Hélène Grimaud’s Existence
by Trent Gilliss, senior editor
The French pianist Hélène Grimaud describes herself as an agitated and unpredictable child who found her salvation in music. And, now, as an adult, it’s wolf conservation and their howling as “one of the most beautiful sounds in nature.”
This interview with Alexis Bloom for Sound Tracks is delightfully produced and touches on a number of interesting other subjects in Grimaud’s life, including her synesthesia and the golden tones of Liszt’s sonata.
And, if, like me, you’d like to hear what Liszt’s Sonata in B minor, what she calls “a monumental quest,” sounds like, take four minutes and watch Grimaud perform this excerpt at Steinway Hall in New York. It’s pretty magical.