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[2001, Mono, 57 minutes]
The Hallmark Sessions 
Berg: Sonata for Piano, Op. 1 (1908)
Shostakovich (transcription by Glickman): Three Fantastic Dances (with Albert Pratz, violin)
Taneyev (transcription by Hartman): The Birth of the Harp (with Albert Pratz, violin)
Prokofiev (transcription by Fichtengoltz): The Winter Fairy (with Albert Pratz, violin)
The Private Recordings [1947-1948]
Mozart: Music for Piano, Four Hands (with Alberto Guerrero, piano II):
- Allegro, from Sonata in C Major, K.521
- Andante with 5 Variations in G Major, K.501
- Allegro di molto, from Sonata in F Major, K.497
- Fantasy in F minor, K.594
J.S. Bach: Italian Concerto in F major, BWV 971
Glenn Gould, piano
Glenn Gould was born in Toronto on September 25, 1932. He was, expectedly, a precocious youngster, showing musical inclinations at the age of three with perfect pitch and some sight-reading abilities. His mother and father, both of them musicians, encouraged their son’s interest in music, with his mother supervising his keyboard training for the next seven years until he entered the Royal Conservatory of Music in 1942.
At the Conservatory, the ten-year-old prodigy studied both piano and organ, the latter instrument simultaneously defining his keyboard technique and instilling in him a life-long reverence for the music of Bach. His piano teacher at the conservatory was Alberto Guerrero and it is Guerrero who is heard in the second piano part in the four selections recorded in June 1947. Though the recorded sound is less than ideal, the recording has great historical significance as the very first documentation of Gould’s playing. What strikes the listener in these performances is the characteristic clarity of Gould’s keyboard style already in place. Though Gould discontinued working with Guerrero in 1952, they remained friends until Guerrero’s death in 1959.
The 1948 Italian Concerto is the first aural record of Gould playing the music of Bach. Other than demonstrating the pianist’s technical dexterity there is little to foreshadow his best Bach playing, first heralded by the remarkable recording made just seven years later of the Goldberg Variations for Columbia Masterworks. Here, the polyphonic strands are carefully delineated, there is wonderful facility in the final movement and a stab at poetry in the Andante, but this is, essentially, the work of a gifted student still finding his way.
The 1953 Hallmark sessions marked Gould’s first venture into the recording studio - the environment in which he became increasingly comfortable as he began to retreat from the rigors of the concert stage. Hallmark was a small independent classical label headquartered in Toronto specializing in recordings of Canadian artists. Aside from producing Gould’s first commercial recordings, the firm documented the early work of Lois Marshall and Maureen Forrester, two greatly esteemed Canadian singers on Gould’s artistic level.
The repertoire for the 1953 sessions demonstrates the breadth of Gould’s musical interests. It is unlikely that Hallmark imposed the selections as they are certainly not "commercial". The Berg Sonata was programmed with some frequency by Gould and was evidently close to his heart. His 1953 reading is expansive, lyrical and highly individualistic. The focus in the Russian "character" pieces is clearly on the violin soloist, but Gould’s accompaniments are not merely dutiful; they are wonderfully supportive and exquisitely nuanced.
Here, then, are the earliest recordings of Glenn Gould, an artist who would go on to forge a unique relationship with the very medium of recording. His final interpretation of the Goldberg Variations was committed to disc in 1981, using the then relatively new digital process. Unfortunately, just as audio technology was beginning a new era, the music world mourned the end of another era: Glenn Gould died shortly after his 50th birthday, in 1982. Thanks to his recorded legacy, Gould’s artistic vision still exerts its profound influence.
This compilation produced in Canada by Mastersound Productions, Inc.
2001 Mastersound Productions, Inc. © 2001 VAI Audio, Inc.
Issued by VAI Audio under license from Mastersound
Production: Julian Rice • Engineering: David Lennick
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