Beethoven - Sonatas Nos. 30-32 : Glenn Gould - 180g LP Mono

Beethoven - Sonatas Nos. 30-32 : Glenn Gould - 180g LP Mono

Product no.: ML5130

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Beethoven - Sonatas Nos. 30-32 : Glenn Gould - 180g LP Mono
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Speakers Corner / Columbia - ML 5130 - 180 Gram Virgin Vinyl

AAA 100% Analogue -  Mastered by Kevin Gray at Cohearant Audio 

Pressed at Pallas - Mono - Limited Edition 

Ludwig van Beethoven:

Piano Sonatas No. 30 in E major op. 109, No. 31 in A-flat major op. 110, No. 32 in C minor op. 111 - Glenn Gould (p)
Myths abound when it comes to the late works of important composers. It is debatable as to whether this is due to their timelessness, or their often extensive form, which makes great demands on the listener, or simply the supreme skill with regard to the composer’s own musical language, which is demonstrated in mature works. It is commonly understood that a performer of late works should treat them with due respect and possess an exceptional command of his instrument. But not so with Glenn Gould, who at the tender age of 23, shortly after his recording debut for the Columbia label of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, dared to perform Beethoven’s last three Piano Sonatas.

Gould, as always analytical, yet supremely flowing, carves out the tightly-knit contrapuntal structure of the fast movements. The slow movements are finely perceived though free of contemplative sentiment and waft gently through the air, here somewhat drily dabbed at, then again singing and full of round, melodious piano sound. Bar for bar it is noticeable that the young Gould knows exactly what he is doing and with whom he is dealing. Here in the hands of this young maestro Beethoven’s spirit is certainly compelling and intoxicating.


Born in Toronto in 1932, Gould first studied piano with his mother who was a voice teacher. At ten he went to the Toronto Conservatory of Music where he studied piano with Albert Guerrero, organ with Frederick C. Silvester and theory with Leo Smith. Concurrently, Gould studied at Malvern Collegiate Institute. At fifteen he gave his recital début in Toronto and within a few years was regularly appearing on Canadian radio and television. Tours of Western Canada followed, and by 1955 Gould, already one of Canada’s outstanding musicians, made his American début in Washington D.C. The recital, consisting of Bach, late Beethoven, Webern and Berg, was repeated in New York whereupon Gould was immediately signed to CBS records. The release of his 1955 recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, BWV 988, (8.111247) spread his name around the world as this was Bach playing of a style that was wholly new.

Gould made his New York orchestral début with the New York Philharmonic and Leonard Bernstein playing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat, Op. 19, and later that year made his début in Berlin with Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. From 1955 Gould performed regularly throughout North America, and between 1957 and 1959 played in the USSR, Israel and Western Europe. Gould was in demand everywhere and played with the greatest orchestras and conductors until 1964 when he retired from the concert stage. He was only 32, but did not like the experience of concert giving, finding it traumatic and unpleasant. Increasingly eccentric and always fastidious and particular about his health, he found the option of editing a recording to his satisfaction far preferable to performing.

Gould recorded for Columbia/CBS from 1955 until his death, and when asked by Columbia what he would like to record as a follow up to his highly successful Goldberg Variations he replied that it should be the last three sonatas by Beethoven. Gould was 23 at the time and the repertoire he had selected was usually reserved for mature pianists with a lifetime of experience of music and the world behind them. It is not, however, such an eccentric choice as it appears, because Gould was already performing the late Beethoven sonatas in his recitals and played some at his earliest appearances in America. Also, these works contain a good deal of fugal writing, something Gould was particularly fond of. The three sonatas were recorded in seven sessions between 20th and 29th June 1956 at Columbia’s 30th Street Studios in New York City.

With hindsight, and after all the contemporary dust had settled, these recordings can be seen as revealing rather than eccentric, a perfectly valid interpretation and not one to be dismissed as the immature utterings of a would-be iconoclast. After all, it is better to be provoked than to be bored. At the time of its release a rather more fair-minded critic wrote of the recording that ‘it must too be admitted that these sonatas as played here are never dull. Diffident performances would be worse than speckles of effrontery at which we wince; for, after all, a wince is a stimulus.


Recording: June 1956 at Columbia 30th Street Studio, New York, by Fred Plaut in mono
Production: Howard H. Scott

Glenn Gould, piano

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

Sonata No. 30 In E Major, Op. 109    
A1    I - Vivace, Ma Non Troppo, Sempre Legato    
A2    II - Prestissimo    
A3    III - Andante Molto Cantabile Ed Espressivo; Variations I-VI    
Sonata No. 31 In A-Flat Major, Op. 110    
A4    I - Moderato Cantabile Molto Espressivo    
A5    II - Allegro Molto    
A6    III - Adagio No Non Troppo (Beginning)    
B1    III - Fuga (Conclusion)    
Sonata No. 32 In C Minor, Op. 111    
B2    I - Maestoso; Allegro Con Brio Ed Appassionato    
B3    II - Arietta (Adagio Molto Semplice E Cantabile)

Sonata No. 30 in E Major, Op. 109
Sonata No. 31 in A-flat Major, Op. 110
Sonata No. 32 in C minor, Op. 111

Recorded June 1956 at Columbia 30th Street Studio, New York

Beethoven - Sonatas Nos. 30-32 : Glenn Gould - 180g LP Mono

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