Glenn Gould plays Bach Partita No. 6
Bruno Monsaingeon, film director
This film is a confirmation of Bach’s exceptional brilliance when interpreted by Glenn Gould.
At the beginning of the 1970s, Glenn Gould is for European music lovers no more than a distant legend, until Bruno Monsaingeon produces this series of interviews with him. Even in France, the pianist who lives in Toronto, has never come to play and his records are unavailable. Monsaingeon, discovers him in 1966 when he buys a record in Moscow on which is written “Bach Inventions” and the name of the pianist which sounds vaguely familiar to him. And… It’s a revelation!
This vinyl, paid for in roubles, marks the start of a fantastic adventure: a letter sent to the Canadian pianist like a bottle in the ocean, an answer six months later, then in 1974, a film articulated around four parts and finally a television broadcast. Beforehand, Monsaingeon takes the precaution of asking Gould’s record company (CBS) to supply the French market with records. On November 30th 1974, the evening of the broadcast of the first episode, an extraordinary event occurs: a strike at the ORTF. Forced to broadcast something to provide a minimum service, the three public channels show this first film at the same time. A few days later, record stocks are exhausted… And the Gould phenomenon is born! A phenomenon that still raises questions today.
Bruno Monsaingeon also pursued his Gouldian quest with several other films and several books (including Le dernier puritain, Non, je ne suis pas du tout un excentrique, Contrepoint à la ligne). This film, the fourth chapter of the documentary, is dedicated to Jan Sebastian Bach, the composer that made Gould famous. The release in 1955 of his recording of the Goldberg Variations had an explosive effect. Since this date, all pianists who venture into Bach territory have to contend with the figure of Glenn Gould… His second recording of the Goldberg Variations, in 1981, complicates things by provoking endless discussions about the respective merits of the two versions.
Gould didn’t limit himself to the Goldberg Variations: he recorded The Well-Tempered Clavier, the Toccatas, piano Concertos, the Inventions, The English Suites, the Partitas, etc. (a box of 12 CDs, Gould Plays Bach, was brought out by CBS at the end of 2007). It is one of these partitas, the Sixth, that he plays in 1974, alone in front of the camera in a studio in Toronto. Elation, lightness, sense of structure and pulsation: under his fingers, Bach shines with a new brilliance.
Movie director : Bruno Monsaingeon
Collection : Classic Archive
Playlists : Great interpreters of the 20th century, Musics from the Americas
Musical period : Baroque
Music genre : Recitals and chamber music
Duration : 27 min
Recording date : 1974
Production date : 1974-2002
Production : © INA