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Glenn Gould: A State of Wonder - The Complete Goldberg Variations 1955 & 1981 (2 CDs)

$ 15.98 $ 17.58
The title of this set, A State of Wonder, probably would induce in Glenn Gould a state of hysterics, never mind that the name originates with him (perhaps he was unconsciously recalling the words of the theme song to the 1960s dolphin drama "Flipper"). But that's classical music marketing today: always emphasize the mystery and spirituality rather than the expressive directness, humanity, and real world fun to be had. And god knows there's fun aplenty in these two classic performances of the Goldberg Variations, not to mention the extensive discussion between critic Tim Page and Gould that comes on a third bonus disc.

And there's another irony here: the 1982 remake is advertised as being reissued for the first time in "pristine analog" sound, when of course one of the major selling points when originally issued was the fact that it was one of Sony's first major productions in stunning, crystalline, super high fidelity digital. Ahem. Actually, all of Gould's recordings were issued in authentic Gould, with the pianist taking exceptional care to make sure that his dry sonority, preternatural clarity of articulation, and irritating humming all were faithfully captured by the microphones, and the differences between the two masterings of the later version are not significant enough to merit further mention.

So here's the skinny: if you don't own Glenn Gould's Goldbergs, you are missing out on one of the true classics of Bach performance, discs that have formed the cornerstone of just about every serious record collection since 1955. The two versions are quite different from each other, and you must answer for yourself if you really need to have both. This is a serious question because these are performances that should be played, listened to, and enjoyed, not purchased to prove your trendiness to your friends and then stowed on a shelf somewhere. So by all means purchase this set, but do give it the time and attention that it deserves. You owe it to yourself. 

--David Hurwitz,

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