Goodyear’s program contains echoes of Gould
Stewart Goodyear’s recital program this Friday night at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre has all the hallmarks of another Canadian pianist, the late great Glenn Gould.
The Toronto-born Goodyear, who opened the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra’s current season with a performance of Brahms’ “First Piano Concerto” under Gemma New, will open his Burlington recital with Orlando Gibbons’ “The Lord Salisbury his Pavin,” “Galiardo” (an updated version of the title is often rendered as “The Lord of Salisbury Pavane and Galliard”).
Written to be played on a virginal keyboard and published in 1613, the “Lord of Salisbury Pavane” was the very piece with which Gould opened his American debut recital at the Phillips Gallery in Washington, D.C., on January 2, 1955.
“Orlando Gibbons is my favourite composer, always has been. I can’t think of anybody who represents the end of an era better than Orlando Gibbons does,” once opined Gould, perhaps tongue firmly in cheek because with Gould you sometimes could never tell whether he was mischievously pulling your leg.
Need an example? Look no further than when Gould said that “despite the requisite quota of scales and shakes in such half-hearted virtuoso vehicles as the ‘Salisbury Galliard,’ one is never quite able to counter the impression of music of supreme beauty that lacks its ideal means of reproduction.
“Like Beethoven in his last quartets, or Webern at almost any time, Gibbons is an artist of such intractable commitment that, in the keyboard field, at least, his works work better in one’s memory, or on paper, than they ever can through the intercession of a sounding board.”
Just for fun, let’s play along with Gould.
Now, if Gibbons was indeed Gould’s all-time favourite composer, then he certainly didn’t do well by him in public.
Sure, the Gibbons opened Gould’s purposely eccentrically programmed Washington recital, but the “Lord Salisbury” was the only Gibbons work that figured on his recital programs before his retirement from the concert stage at the age of 31 in 1964.
Goodyear is scheduled to follow Gibbons’ measured “Pavane” and snappy “Galliard” with Bach’s “French Suite No. 5 in G major.” Gould maniacs will know that it wasn’t this work, but Bach’s “Partita No. 5 in G major” that Gould played at his Washington recital.
However, Goodyear knows that particular partita quite well. Back on January 10, 2016, he took to the stage of the sold-out Music Room of the Phillips Gallery in Washington, D.C., and proceeded to re-create the program with which Gould had made his American debut some 61 years earlier.
Gould’s program for his American debut was a template for many of the programs he’d serve up in public: an hors d’oeuvre from the late Renaissance or early baroque, a main course comprised of Bach, a second and/or third course from a select group of Classical or Romantic composers, and to top everything off, a heaping helping from the Second Viennese School of the early 20th century.
For his Burlington recital, Goodyear has selected Beethoven’s “Sonata no. 28” Op. 101, and not the Op. 109 sonata, which was performed by you-know-who at you-knowwhich recital.
Of course, Goodyear knows Op. 109, and every other Beethoven piano sonata for that matter, because he played all 32 of them by heart in a one-day marathon lasting slightly over 10 hours on June 9, 2012, in Toronto’s Koerner Hall.
After the interval, there’ll be two intermezzi by Brahms, the Op. 117 No. 3 and the Op. 118 No. 2.
Thereafter, it’s on to the Second Viennese School with Alban Berg’s one movement “Sonata” Op. 1, which Gould played in Leningrad on May 14, 1957, when he became the first Canadian musician to play in the USSR following the Second World War.
For most listeners, Gould’s recording legacy will forever be inextricably linked to Bach’s “Goldberg Variations,” be it his Columbia Masterworks LP which launched his international recording career in 1956 or his 1981 digital recording released on CBS Masterworks shortly before his death at 50 in October 1982.
Stewart Goodyear will perform works from Orlando Gibbons, Bach, Beethoven, Brahms and Berg.