Tracking Surround: Glenn Gould SACD Page 2

Bach: Goldberg Variations

Zenph believes that Gould, who was fascinated by the developing recording technologies of his time, would have approved of all this audio cryonics. While it is true that early in his career he abandoned concert performance and devoted his time to studio recordings, sound for him was always in service to music. He was convinced that he could deliver a better performance without the distractions and nerves that were inescapable in front of a live audience. Yet here we have a recording where music seems to be in service to sound, for the primary purpose of creating a sonic showpiece.

In the multichannel version, the use of the surround channels is mercifully subdued. (After all, do we really need to be surrounded by a solo piano?) Then again, the notes do dance across the front three channels, creating lateral movement that would never have been achieved in concert. The binaural version, billed as "the ultimate headphone experience," is better.

So, yes, the sound quality itself of this SACD overall is, as rated, excellent. But ultimately for this listener, there's more artistic personality and recorded music history, warts and all, in the original than in this "state of the art" reproduction - er, "Re-Performance."

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