Mozart: The Complete Piano Sonatas
Performed by Glenn Gould
The Canadian pianist Glenn Gould designed several alter egos, extreme archetypes of the classical-music world: British critic Sir Nigel Twitt-Thornewaite, American gadfly Theodore Slutz, and German musicologist Karlheinz Klopweisser, to name a few. Inhabiting one or another, he’d write bizarre liner notes for, and later negative reviews of, his own albums. For his studio recording of Mozart’s complete piano sonatas, Gould seems to have costumed himself in yet another personality, this one the least imaginary: the precocious, obsessive-compulsive musician who loathes Mozart.
The set was Gould’s attempt to poke fun at misconceived performances of the composer’s solo work, but it was simultaneously a way to conjure Mozart as he heard him—derivative, gauche, almost moronic. His Mozart is derision without gestures or words, unless you count the frequent background humming (a habit of the pianist’s that functions like a signature on the corner of the music). It is the equivalent of defacing eighteen Rembrandts.
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