Topic: Glenn Gould Plays J.S. Bach’s Fugue in E Major, the Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 2

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Topic: Glenn Gould plays J.S. Bach’s Fugue in E major, The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 2 J.S. Bach’s renowned composition, The Well-Tempered Clavier, depicts a wide variety of color, technique, and style from a musical perspective. The piece “is a kind of encyclopedia of fugue composition, in which the greatest master of the genre tried out almost ever technique and style available to it,” (Kerman 133) and many pianists and modern composers still look back to perform and analyze the varying forms, textures, and devices Bach used to reinterpret his work. One particular pianist, Glenn Gould, established his career performing Bach’s compositions from the 1950s onward. In performing Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier, Gould was able to clearly redefine the musical personality in each subject by mirroring it after his own. Indeed, by articulating Bach’s contrapuntal textures, maintaining the tempo in an imitative manner, and playing with precise finger technique, Glenn Gould demonstrates in Bach’s Fugue in E Major, The Well-Tempered Clavier, his personal demeanor as eccentric, obsessive, and obstinate.
Gould’s articulation of Bach’s contrapuntal textures is characterized by his stark entrances of each subject of the fugue, as well as his paralleling of the voices in the same dynamics by both hands; these distinct characteristics exemplify Gould’s eccentric personality as he similarly had almost two minds – one for his musical career and one for his personal life. As the piece begins with the left hand introducing the subject in forte, Gould gradually decrescendos this first introduction as the right hand enters with a stark entrance echoing the subject. As the piece goes on, we hear Gould exchanging the subject between both his hands with energy and in an imitative polyphonic manner, with both repetition in dynamic and rhythm apparent to keep homogeneity. Gould’s…...

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