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Classical Notes

Gould lives

Posted at 1:44 PM on March 13, 2007 by Don Lee

Glenn Gould's playing has been brought back to life by a computerized piano. Writers for The New York Times and The Washington Post were among those on hand for an event last week that re-created Glenn Gould's 1955 recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations. The process reportedly delivers an unprecedented level of nuance and detail.

In their stories, both Edward Rothstein and Tim Page ask themselves how closely the "re-performance" resembles the Gould original. They don't ask, why go to the trouble?

Page does call it "one of the most celebrated recordings ever made," and I can hardly disagree. But I can't help but think of this specially programmed Yamaha Disklavier as a shrine belonging to "the cult of the performer" (writer Joseph Horowitz 's term). As such, it exists mainly to foster, as Horowitz put it, an "anachronistic new audience for old music."