Sunday, September 11, 2011

Glenn Gould - A State of Wonder


These two performances of the Goldberg Variations have been reissued so many times. But what makes this new reissue stand out is the bonus interview & outtakes of the 1955 recording sessions, plus all brand new remastered sound using Direct Stream Digital technology, with 2.83 MHz sampling frequency yielding high resolution results on standard CD.
I was a little hesitant to purchase this set at first because I already own both versions of these piece. But after I bought and listened to it, I must say I don't regret it at all.
In 1981, Gould recorded his latest thoughts on the Goldberg Variations. Some people expressed the opinion then that the digital Lp & CD sound was unkindly analytical, lacking timbre, causing the notes to appear disconnected from each other.
Twenty years have passed since Gould's untimely death and to honour him and set the record straight, Sony Music returned to the analogue master tapes made at the same session. In the early 1980's, digital technology was in its infancy and technically imperfect. By contrast, analog technology had reached its peak. As a precaution of early digital imperfection, what many recording companies did, including Sony Music, was running two recording medium simultaneously side-by-side at the recording session and mark analog version as "safety master" in case there's anything wrong with the digital masters. From the technical notes in the booklet of this CD set, when Sony gave the green light to this "State of wonder" project, Sony A&R, reissue producer and two sound engineers as well as a project adviser, Mr. Tim page, made a Digital vs. Analog comparison and they found that the analog safety master has much superior sound that no one had ever heard before. Then the vote was unanimous to reissue the 1981 version using the analog safety master, instead of digital, for the first time after 21 years it was recorded. This analog safety master was unedited, untouched, so they had to acquire the original score marked by Glenn Gould & original records producer, then they edited the tapes to exactly duplicate the sequences chosen for the original release by Glenn himself.
The difference of sound quality is not superficial. Even untrained ears can notice it. Now, there are the sonorities so painfully absent before, providing the necessary connection between the notes. This performance now sings. Well, so does Gould but that becomes an attraction, not a distraction.
The third disc had Gould chatting with Tim Page about the two recordings with illustrations. Also, the never before released 1955 outtakes of Goldbergs' session.
This package is no mere re-exploitation of existing recordings. It does honour to Glenn Gould.

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1 comment:

Chengis Khan said...

"This package is no mere re-exploitation of existing recordings. It does honour to Glenn Gould."

A have to agree with that. The release is an unique tribute to an unique... not just an artist, but a human.