Gould plays Beethoven (for my friend Richard)

One of the world’s greatest compositions, Beethoven’s 5th piano concerto (the Emperor), played by Glenn Gould on piano – Leopold Stokowsky conducting The American Symphony Orchestra 1966.

My friend Richard admires Glenn Gould so much, I’ll go ahead and post this work, which may or may not be “perverse” and “heretical”!

Here is a review of this recording on Amazon.

Both Glenn Gould and Leopold Stokowski were often iconoclasts, with musical interpretations that some considered eccentric or even heretical. That’s certainly the case with this piece, which some critics have labeled as “perverse”. So fair warning, purists often despise this recording.

Not me. Of all all the other versions I have heard, this is the one I keep returning to. The 2nd movement as played by Gould is one of the most beautiful and moving pieces of music I’ve ever experienced. Stokowski’s orchestra is lush and sonorous, Gould’s playing is fluid and singing, and even the humming somehow works.

It’s true that Stokowski and Gould sometimes seem to have different ideas about the music (particularly in the first movement). Listening closely, one can detect inconsistencies between the approach of the conductor and pianist. But somehow that doesn’t matter, and the end result is a glorious musical triumph. Other recordings may be truer and more accurate, but to me they sound pale and bland next to this. Regardless of its eccentricities and heresies, it’s still one of my top 10 favorite recordings. Ever.

First movement – Allegro


Second Movement – Adagio Un Poco Mosso


Third Movement Rondo- Allegro Ma Non Tanto