Glenn Gould - The Goldberg Variations (1956), 5/10

Going in with an open mind and with a liking for some but not all of Bach’s compositions, I couldn’t help but be disappointed with this recording. I do think that my disinterest in this style of baroque and Gould’s interpretations of Bach’s works in general provided a tinge of inherent dissonance in my ears, but even after a dozen or so listens it doesn’t do much for me beyond provide ambiance. Granted, there are pieces here that are performed with flawless execution and impressive passion, but they are outnumbered by what I would call an academic performance of emotionally dry compositions. This is odd for me to write as someone who enjoys études and their academic precision, and a slew of other music that has been called overly cerebral and ‘boring’. That being said, there are études and ‘mathematical’ compositions with far more moving emotional swells, both high and low, than Bach’s Goldberg variations. I would concede that this is by and far Gould’s most impressive and enjoyable recording that I have heard; I made the amateurish mistake of purchasing one of his performances before listening to it in full, and it has collected dust for years. Again, I gave it many repeated listens on the turntable and it did nothing for me. Almost beyond nothing, it was frustratingly lacking in compassion and void of beauty beyond the surface level impression. Sometimes mechanical playing works for the listener and sometimes it does not, unfortunately I find that this recording does not work for me. Gould’s impressive and groundbreaking performance essentially has become a relic that I will not be returning to. There exist far too many more touching pieces of classical music to listen to and discover