Glenn Gould by Karsh

Discussion in 'Photographers' started by Mike Té, Jan 30, 2008.

  1. Mike Té

    Mike Té Subscriber

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    I work at the "Estrellita and Yousuf Karsh Emergency Department" at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario here in Ottawa. Several times every day I walk past 20 large Karsh portraits. Occasionally, when not in a huge rush, I stop and scrutinize one closely. It has taken me a long time, but I've finally decided why I particularly like the image of Glenn Gould the pianist:

    http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/05/0535/05350419_e.html

    The version that hangs at work is a large print, about 20" x 24", cropped just below his elbow, burned much darker over the elbow drawing the viewer's eyes to his hands. All of Karsh's portraits are posed, of course, some staged in his studio, some on location at the subject's home or work. What I notice about Gould's portrait is that he seems to have forgotten that Karsh is there. His concentration on his piano piece is total, you can see the motion blur in his finger tips.

    Masterful. I can choose to be in awe anytime I wish.
     
  2. SchwinnParamount

    SchwinnParamount Subscriber

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    That is exactly why it is such an excellent photograph. Gould was that sort of pianist. I've read the Gould biography and own all of his recordings plus heard several interviews with Gould. It appears to me that he was the sort of genius who owes his performance brilliance to his ability to hyper-focus on the singular task at hand. It is easy to see how Gould could have actually forgotten that karsh was even in the room
     
  3. bfurner

    bfurner Member

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    thanks for sharing. that is one of my favorite shots of gould without a doubt.

    if you are a fan of gould, jock carroll has a book comprised mostly of candids taken of a young glenn which show a nice range of his character from the hyperfocused pianist to the jocular thinker. well worth a look.
     
  4. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

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    After more than 50 years his 1955 recording of the Goldberg Variations is still in the Columbia (Sony) catalogue. And IMHO, it's still the best recording ever made of that piece.
     
  5. crabby

    crabby Member

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  6. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    And what's more, I think every pianist who has attempted the piece ever since has been influenced by that seminal recording. I remember being baffled by the piece when my only exposure to it was a harpsichord version by Wanda Landowska, but after hearing Gould, the work was transformed for me. (Not that Landowska wasn't terrific, it's just that i wasn't ready at the time.)
     
  7. isaacc7

    isaacc7 Member

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    My favorite picture of Glen Gould shows a young man crouched down on the studio floor amongst a slew of mic stands. I can't find a link to it right now, and I don't know who took the picture, can anyone help me out?

    Isaac
     
  8. loman

    loman Subscriber

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    Well I prefer the 82 version of the Goldberg Variations. Maybe becaus that's the year I was born?
    Seriously though, sure it's more eccentric, but in my mind, also more "deep".
    Anway back to photography...
     
  9. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

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    I never liked Landowska, but Anthony Newman's harpsichord version is right up there with Gould's to my ears.
     
  10. wilsonneal

    wilsonneal Member

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    I just get distracted by his vocalization while playing. The playing is masterful, but hearing him humming in the background always diverts my attention.
    N
     
  11. SchwinnParamount

    SchwinnParamount Subscriber

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    In his later years, Gould himself prefered the 82 version. He thought the earlier version was far to emotive and dramatic. Like me, Glenn Gould was somewhat uncomfortable with emotions. Unlike me, he was a real artist.
     
  12. Bill Mitchell

    Bill Mitchell Member

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    Thanks for showing it. I'd never seen this picture before, and agree with you that it is the outstanding portrait of the 25 in that series. It was also interesting to see for the first time the "other" image of Churchill.
     
  13. cowanw

    cowanw Member

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    You always hear about Portrait Photographers getting to the essence of a character. Like the combative photo of Churchill as the bull dog of England. Then you see the smiling Churchill and I start to think that a portrait only shows what the viewer thinks it shows.
    I also recently saw two of Eisenstadt's photos of Goebbels, the usual scowling threatening Goebbels sitting in the chair and the second photo of Goebbels smiling and looking up at a friend, looking ever so much like a Hollywood movie star.
    You never see the smiling Goebbels and so you never think he could be anything but malevolent.
    But if the other photo was the only one seen all the time, you would not think he was such a bad guy.
    Maybe if they had published the smiling photo of Churchill, England would have lost the war.
    OK that's a stretch but I am coming to the conclusion that showing the character of a subject is more what the viewer sees than what the character really is.
    In Gould's photo we see deep concentration and that fits with what we think we know of Gould's character. Karsh was skilled at reading the subjext but I think he was more skilled at reading the viewer.
    Regards
    Bill
     
  14. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Same here!

    Anyway, it's a great picture, he has a certain playful, childlike quality- perhaps it's the lithe fingers and the totally uninhibited mannerisms. This photograph captures that. And his flexibility may have been designed specifically for JS Bach, who was known to strike a note with his nose or an elbow. In other words, the man was childlike and playful.

    Incidentally I have heard that the new Perahia versions of the Goldbergs is genius, but I haven't heard the recording yet myself. Perahia had a hand injury that turned out to give him a lot of time to reconsider certain works, and apparently it made a profound difference in his interpretation.... which was already held in high esteem by most critics.
     
  15. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    Thanks for mentioning that. I'll try to get a hold of a copy. I'll bet the Aria is amazing.
     
  16. Rob Vinnedge

    Rob Vinnedge Member

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    And then there is Rosalyn Tureck.