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Stewart Goodyear pens a 'love note' to Glenn Gould

Robert Rowat

Less than a year after wowing us with his all-Ravel album, Stewart Goodyear is back with For Glenn Gould, his tribute to the legendary Canadian pianist.

"Glenn Gould was a musician who followed his own path, his own heart," Goodyear told us during a recent phone interview. "Because I was such an admirer of Glenn Gould from a very young age, this album is a love note to Gould’s mastery, his legacy."

Hear selections from For Glenn Gould and read more from our interview with Goodyear, below.

The album's genesis dates back to January 2016 when Goodyear accepted an invitation from the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., to re-enact Gould's 1955 recital debut there by playing exactly the same repertoire: Gibbons, Sweelinck, Bach, Webern, Beethoven and Berg.

The following year, Goodyear received a similar invitation from the Ladies Morning Musical Club in Montreal. This time, he was asked to replicate Gould's 1952 recital debut — a similar program with Brahms replacing Webern.

"When I first looked at the programs, I said 'My goodness, these are probably the most interesting programs I have ever seen before,'" says Goodyear. "I attended a choir school as a youngster where we sang motets from the Renaissance period and some of those motels were by Gibbons and Sweelinck as well as Palestrina. So I was very interested that they wrote keyboard music and I wanted to explore that. What an opportunity to do so!"

"I felt such an intimacy with the program and with the audiences," he continues. "It was an atmosphere of love, peace, discovery and excitement." (Montreal reviewer Arthur Kaptainis praised Goodyear's "sheer giftedness as a musical thinker and executant.")

After getting inside Gould's mind for these concerts, it was inevitable that Goodyear would hit the recording studio. The resulting For Glenn Gould is a hybrid of those Washington and Montreal programs.

In the album's liner notes, Goodyear says his favourite Gould recording is in fact not Bach, but Brahms' Intermezzi. "In Brahms, I finally heard Gould, the salon artist, the homebody cozying up in his summer home in Lake Simcoe."

And like Gould, Goodyear favours the atmosphere of a recording studio over a concert hall. "I'm always playing for people, whether or not in concert," he says. "The recording engineers and producers become my audience." He recorded For Glenn Gould at Sono Luminous Studios in Boyce, Va.

"One thing I always want with my recording is that it has a live presence — that it always feels like a performance, a document for that moment in time."

No pianist will ever sound like Gould, and that was not Goodyear's aim. "I wanted to honour Gould by approaching these pieces just as he did, but not in the way that he played them," he explains. "The way I play the repertoire was my own personal interpretation. That was the only way to honour Gould, as opposed to just being a copy of the way that he would play."

For Glenn Gould
will be released on March 23. Pre-order it here.

Canadian audiences can hear Goodyear play Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5 with Sinfonia Toronto on April 6. He'll play Schubert's "Trout" Quintet with Trio Arkel and double bassist Jeffrey Beecher at Toronto's Trinity St. Paul's Centre on April 27.

Pianist Stewart Goodyear releases For Glenn Gould on March 23, 2018.

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