Glenn Gould, The Retreat
Bruno Monsaingeon, film director
The birth of a legend: for the first time, Glenn Gould confided before the camera.
“The atmosphere of the blood sport practised in the concert arena”, that’s what Glenn Gould refused, at thirty-two, to continue to experience. From that day on, the Canadian pianist stopped playing in concert to concentrate on teaching. It is this “retirement” he describes before Bruno Monsaingeon’s cameras in 1974, in Toronto. In 1974, Glenn Gould for European connoisseurs is no more than a distant legend. He has never come to play in France and his records are unobtainable.
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. 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 is shot and finally a television broadcast.
On November 30th, 1974, the evening when the first episode is scheduled “La retraite”, an event occurs that is rich in consequences: 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, the record stock is exhausted and the Gould phenomenon is born. A phenomenon that still raises questions today.
When looking at these images, one understands the shock television viewers must have experienced when they saw this character of diabolical intelligence, full of mischief and brio. Glenn Gould thinks inversely to everyone. And it isn’t out of provocation; he is unconventional, from the chair made by his father to the repertoire he has chosen, ranging from Gibbons to Schoenberg and Bach.
To Bruno Monsaingeon, who has gained his trust, Glenn Gould talks about his childhood, about his rejection of concert life at the age of thirty-two, talks of the music he loves and his favourite composers, Bach and Schoenberg, while playing the piano from time to time. He gives us astounding interpretations of works by Jan Sebastian Bach, Orlando Gibbons and William Byrd. To conclude, he gives us his transcription of Wagner’s Mastersingers, which he comments as he plays and sings. A great moment of music and cinema.
Duration : 47 min
Production date : 1974
Production : © Ideale Audience / INA
Available version(s) : FR