GOULD Piano Sonata. 5 Short Pieces GULDA Play Piano Play
Sasha Grynyuk’s recording debut is as idiosyncratic as it is dazzling. The reverse of the well-tried and familiar, it opts for a startling juxtaposition of music by two great pianists, Friedrich Gulda and Glenn Gould. Gulda, you may recall, moved effortlessly from New York’s Carnegie Hall to Birdland, proclaiming that jazz was the true voice of both the present and the future, classical music a museum relic from the past.
Outrageous to the last, his ‘death’ was followed by a ‘resurrection’ recital, a ploy to illustrate his belief in the superiority of life over death. Personally, I can recall a Queen Elizabeth Hall recital where Gulda replaced unannounced Debussy’s Reflets dans l’eau with his own ‘light my fire’ fugue, prompting a stout Victorian-looking lady to walk out in contempt.
Gould, on the other hand, despised jazz and his music on this disc is of a stark northern nature, growling and ill-tempered in his Sonata and strongly influenced by Hindemith elsewhere. Gulda’s jazz (which true jazzmen and classical musicians disliked, claiming it was neither one thing nor the other) is at its most witty and concentrated in No 1 of Play Piano Play and in the volleys of repeated notes of No 6; but all of this music is played by Grynyuk (who has studied with both Brendel and Perahia) with an astonishing brio and with a complete mastery of such contrasted idioms. His own lengthy quasi-philosophical essay falls a little too easily under the spell of his heroes and I would beg him to hear Gulda’s Chopin (a composer he claims he rarely played), most notably on his disc of the Four Ballades. Piano Classics’ sound is of demonstration quality and now I would love to hear Grynyuk in some of the great masterpieces of the repertoire.