Glenn Gould had his opinions.
On Saturday, Toronto’s heat wave drove my out of my sweltering apartment and into the air-conditioned arms of the Toronto Reference Library. There, I settled into The Glenn Gould Reader – a collection of articles by the great man himself. There’s nothing like Gould’s dispassionately analytical prose-style (with just a touch of dry humour) for cooling the blood.
I soon found myself reading a charming little essay called “Canadian Piano Music in the Twentieth Century,” written in 1967 as liner-notes for an LP recording. In it, Gould offered a thumbnail sketch of the prominent Canadian composers of the day. According to Gould, Serge Garant was a “Boulez-bound serialist,” and John Weinzweig was “pecking away at modified post-Webernian pointillism.” Such brief remarks suggest little more than a casual acquaintance with these composers and their music. But the fact that Gould took pen in hand to offer his opinions shows that he cared.
Pianist Jan Lisiecki.
Jan Liesecki is a tall, gaunt, 16-year-old with a mop of Bieber-esque blonde hair who’s poised to become a piano phenomenon. From Calgary, Alberta, he’s already made about 100 concerto appearances – and in the coming months will debut with the Orchestre de Paris, the BBC Symphony, the Cologne Philharmonic and Leipzig’s Gewandhaus Orchestra, among others. And last year he signed a recording contract with Deutsche Grammophon. He hasn’t yet played with the big American orchestras, but surely it’s just a matter of time.
I heard Lisiecki for the first time on Friday night (July 15), when the Brott Music Festival brought him to Toronto’s Glenn Gould Studio to appear with Boris Brott’s National Academy Orchestra. Personally, I’d rather assess a new pianist in a solo recital than in an orchestral appearance. But the fact that he played two concertos on this program – Mozart’s Concerto No. 21 and Liszt’s Concerto No. 2 – made it possible to gain a broader perspective on this young artist.