SONY CLASSICAL RELEASES “GLENN GOULD: THE GOLDBERG VARIATIONS – THE COMPLETE UNRELEASED 1981 STUDIO SESSIONS” TO COMMEMORATE THE ICON’S 90th BIRTHDAY & THE 40TH ANNIVERSARY OF HIS LEGENDARY RE-RECORDING OF BACH’S MASTERPIECE FOR KEYBOARD.
HARD-COVER BOOK WITH 10 CDS OF NEVER-BEFORE-HEARD AUDIO FROM
THE RECORDING SESSIONS PLUS THE DOUBLE GRAMMY-WINNING FINAL
Forty years ago, on September 2, 1982 – the year of Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Steven Spielberg’s
E.T. – Glenn Gould’s legendary second recording of the Goldberg Variations closed a circle that his revolutionary 1956 recording of Bach’s masterpiece had opened. While his first recording is the
exuberant, fast-paced work of a 22-year-old pianistic prodigy, his second is the measured, richly
detailed interpretation of an experienced studio artist. Just five weeks later, the Canadian pianist
died unexpectedly, leaving the world a masterpiece of recording art that – awarded two GRAMMYs –
is still one of the most listened to classical albums worldwide.
In Gould’s 90th anniversary year and 40 years since the second album’s first release, Sony Classical is
proud to announce the release of Glenn Gould: The Goldberg Variations – The Complete Unreleased
1981 Recording Sessions, a uniquely detailed window into the creation of this classic recording.
Across 11 CDs, the set includes the double GRAMMY-winning final release as well as everything
committed to tape during the 1981 sessions, restored from the original ¼-inch analogue tapes and
mastered using 24 bit / 96 kHz technology. As well as the takes themselves, the session recordings
include Gould and the producers’ conversations, all of which are transcribed in a hard-cover coffee-
table book which also contains an annotated score.
The 216-page book additionally features extensive documentation about the recording process
including facsimiles of archival documents, a complete transcript of all studio conversations, as well
as illuminating articles about the recording process – including the recollections of Richard Einhorn,
one of the producers who worked with Gould on the recording.
Gould was famously dismissive of the earlier recording of Bach’s variations that had made his name,
adopting a notably slower and more expansive approach the second time around. As Einhorn writes
in his article: “Glenn’s thinking about the Goldbergs had evolved considerably since his original
recording in 1955. As I understand it, he developed a way to interconnect the variations through an
elaborate proportional tempo plan – the upcoming variation’s tempo would be some ratio of the
previous variation. This would enable Gould to have a wide variety of musically related tempi for the
Working in April and May 1981 and frequently recording late into the night, Gould and the CBS
Masterworks studio team, headed by producer Sam Carter, were joined by the French filmmaker
Bruno Monsaingeon, who was making a documentary series about Gould; Monsaingeon can also be
heard in the recordings.
These sessions were also the last ever to take place at Columbia’s legendary 30th Street Studio in
New York, the place where so many famed recordings were made by the likes of Miles Davis, Frank
Sinatra and Leonard Bernstein.
Fascinating for any fans of this unique artist, this set documents and preserves a landmark recording,
serves as a source for further research and offers captivating insights into the working methods of
one of the greatest musical personalities of the 20th century.
CD 1: April 22 & 23, 1981 – Aria, Variations 1–4, 6, 7, 9, 10
CD 2: April 23, 1981 – Variations 11–15
CD 3: April 24 & 25, 1981 – Variations 16–18, 8, 3, 1, 2, 4
CD 4: April 25, 1981 – Variations 6, 7, 9, 10, 12
CD 5: April 25, 1981 – Variations 13, 14, 16, 17, 8
CD 6: May 12, 1981 – Variations 19, 21–25
CD 7: May 13, 1981 – Variations 25–30
CD 8: May 14 & 15, 1981 – Aria da capo, Variations 20, 5, 26, 27, 29, 24, 30, Aria
CD 9: May 16, 1981 – Aria, Aria da capo, Variations 25, 20
CD 10: May 16 & 19, 1981 – Variations 25, 5, 24, 10, 14, 25, 8
CD 11: THE GOLDBERG VARIATIONS