Glenn Gould From A To Z (by Michael Stegemann)

A B C D E F G H I M N O P R S T
Don Hunstein / Apr 78

MOZART

“How Mozart Became a Bad Composer” was the provocative title of a feature that Gould made for the United States television channel PBL in 1968. No other composer bore the brunt of Gould’s criticisms as much as Mozart, whose “hedonism” was profoundly suspect to a self-declared Puritan like Gould, who claimed that when Mozart died in 1791 at the age of thirty-five, “he died too late rather than too soon”. Gould felt that if he were to extend the stylistic line represented by the last three hundred numbers of Köchel’s work-list, then Mozart – had he lived to threescore years and ten – would have “turned into a sort of cross between Weber and Spohr”. In spite of this, Gould recorded the C minor Piano Concerto K 491, four of the fantasias and all seventeen piano sonatas, some of them breathlessly fast, others – including the opening movement of the A major Sonata K 331 – painfully slow. Critics spoke of “the most loathsome recording of all time”. “It all conjures up an image of a tremendously precocious but very nasty little boy trying to put one over on his piano teacher.” But as always with Gould, even his Mozart performances reveal veritable miracles of insight: he is one of the few pianists, for example, to play the Marcia alla turca in K 331 at the prescribed slow Allegretto.