Who needs this disc? Not people who already have all of Gould's Bach recordings. They already love Gould's athletically racing, intellectually probing Bach, and there's nothing new on these discs for them. Nor is it for the people for already hate Gould's revved-up, super-charged Bach. They've already decided that Gould's a poseur and a fake. This disc is for people who haven't heard Gould play Bach yet and want to check the late, great Canadian pianist out.
What they'll get is the opening Aria from Gould's 1955 recording of the Goldberg Variations -- fast, light, and objective -- and the closing Aria from Gould's 1981 recording of the same work -- slow, dark, and deeply subjective -- sandwiching a handful of Bach's greatest hits for the keyboard. They'll get three fleet inventions, a couple of flashy Preludes and Fugues, a lean "Italian" Concerto, and a really mean Chromatic fantasia and fugue. They'll get a few Gouldian oddities like the quirky "Little" Preludes and the diabolic Aria variata alla maniera italiana in A minor. They'll also get a truly bizarre set of excerpts from The Art of the Fugue played by Gould on the organ (one cannot recall another major pianist who essayed this work or any other on the organ). Gould's registrations are strange and his rhythms peculiar, but his intellectual concentration never wavers. Finally, they'll get a CD-ROM which will allow them to see as well as hear Gould perform and discuss The Art of the Fugue. Gould was as compelling a speaker as he was a player, and the CD-ROM is an amusing glimpse of the mind behind the fingers.
Recommended for those who want to try a little Gould and do not know where to start.