Glenn Gould is one of my favorite pianists of the 20th century – his goal as a performer was clarity of counterpoint (bringing out individual lines or phrases in the music and highlighting how they relate or interact with one another). His presence and connection with the music during his performances is truly remarkable, but what I love most of all is how he plays with such clarity and precision. His intention was always to serve the composer’s music instead of muddying it up with his own ego or dramatic flair (like many performers often do).
This particular Bach Toccata (Partita No. 6, BWV 830) is also a beautiful example of contrapuntal music at its finest – aside from the fact that the piece sounds way ahead of its time, the form and craftsmanship are truly remarkable. If you’re not that familiar with “classical music,” just listen for the way the phrases interact, and how Bach recycles a few small musical ideas into an entire movement.
“The purpose of art is not the release of a momentary ejection of adrenaline but rather the gradual, lifelong construction of a state of wonder and serenity.” — Glenn Gould