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Robert Levine
Amazon.com, November 2006

Glenn Gould remains an enigmatic, fascinating figure more than two decades after his death. This new film, directed by Gould's friend Bruno Monsaingeon, who has already written four books and made a 23-part TV series about him, is something very special. Taken from Gould's own words, the pianist himself seems to act as narrator in a retrospective on his life and art. A great deal of archival footage of both interviews and performances exemplify the pianist's genius and eccentricities. There are modern-day interviews as well. One with an Italian woman who comes to hang out with a sculpture of Gould in front of the CBC building in Toronto lets us in on the emotional effect he had on people, and many others discuss how he changed their perceptions of music. Gould himself is remarkably insightful in interviews. He seems to have been a man incapable of being boring or thoughtless. And, of course, the music speaks for itself. You'll hear some of the most stunning playing. Even those of us who already know and appreciate Gould will find new things here. This film is an eye- and ear-opening



Lawson Taitte
The Dallas Morning News, October 2006

Bruno Monsaingeon is the Ken Burns of documentaries about classical musicians. He previously supervised a series putting together Glenn Gould's television programs. Wanting to take another look at a favorite artist, he focuses this time on the Glenn Gould cult. In Canada, it's not unlike America's Elvis Presley cult, and it has strong adherents throughout the world.

Here, he features all sorts of aficionados, from a middle-aged Russian woman to a young British musician with a Gould memento tattooed on her torso. (From the film's credits, it's not clear whether these are fans or actors portraying them, but their fervor seems credible.)

There are a few contemporary reconstructions, such as shots of a car like the one Mr. Gould drove zooming along the St. Lawrence River. Mostly, though, the film consists of archival footage and stills, much of it newly dug up. Mr. Monsaingeon edits it in a way that's both thematic and biographical.

The great and famously eccentric pianist seems pretty sane, if highly pretentious, considering the line attributed to conductor George Szell: "That nut is a genius!"

Musically, the film shows how broad Mr. Gould's tastes were, given his reputation as a Bach specialist. Although we don't get many entire pieces of music, the soundtrack seldom sounds like "bleeding chunks." Mr. Monsaingeon's sensibilities are far too musical for that.

Some of the interviews the pianist gives look ironic, if not merely outrageous, yet it's fascinating to see how farsighted some of his ideas were, especially concerning the growing primacy of recorded music over the live event. In one way, though, the worm has turned: We're getting a flood of recordings by great musicians of the past taped in concert. The segment that shows one of Mr. Gould's famous editing sessions putting together dozens of snippets to make a single three- or four-minute trace now seems hopelessly out of date.

If you're a Gould fan, this one obviously is required watching. If you're not, it stands a good chance of converting you.



Marc Geelhoed
Time Out Chicago, October 2006

Bruno Monsaingeon’s Hereafter (Idéale Audience) explores fans’ loving memories of the once-in-a-lifetime pianist Glenn Gould. Monsaingeon found five enthusiastic Gould fans, but their stories steal the focus from Gould. The scenes of Gould at recording sessions take you into his hermit like world. (Gould’s quoted in the doc as saying, “I detest audiences,” before adding that he doesn’t hate them as individuals, just as a group. You have to wonder what he would think of a film about the worship he inspired.) In 1964, he retreated into the recording studio, where he was able to tinker forever with splicing the correct takes of what he had just played.

Gould’s idiosyncratic performances of Bach are available on CD, but these bizarre interviews aren’t. In that regard, and in many others, the DVD illuminates the music in ways that can’t be found elsewhere.



James R. Oestreich
The New York Times, October 2006

“For Glenn, music was a mental process,” says Bruno Monsaingeon in his new film, “Glenn Gould: Hereafter.” The film will carry you deep inside Mr. Gould’s musical mind: an awesome place to be, and not always a comfortable one.

“There have been many occasions when I’ve rehearsed something and have come into the studio at 10 o’clock on a Monday morning and really been in 16 — not just 2 different minds but 16 different minds as to how it should go,” Mr. Gould says at one point, reveling in his own musical brilliance. “And this sense of options is really quite a marvelous luxury.”

Reveling at another time in misanthropy seemingly fueled by paranoia, he says: “I detest audiences. Not in their individual segments but en masse, I detest audiences. I think they are a force of evil.” At least he had the courage of those convictions: he abandoned a flourishing concert career in 1964 and holed up in his native Toronto with what he calls “a kind of Howard Hughesian secrecy.”

The film, beautifully made, will receive its New York premiere tonight at the Walter Reade Theater, kicking off a month long festival of films, “Glenn Gould Unveiled,” presented as part of Lincoln Center’s Great Performers series. It has also recently been released on DVD by Idéale Audience.

It will be followed tonight by another film directed by Mr. Monsaingeon, with Mr. Gould playing Bach’s “Goldberg” Variations in 1981, the year before his death. Mr. Monsaingeon, a Canadian who is also represented in other films in the Lincoln Center series, knew Mr. Gould well, having by his own accounting in the booklet notes directed seven films “with Gould as hero” as well as having put together a series of 23 television programs and written four books on him.

To call Mr. Gould the hero of “Glenn Gould: Hereafter” is an understatement. The film is pervaded by an air of quasi-religious adulation, voiced mainly by an odd cast of characters whose lives Mr. Gould touched posthumously but profoundly — if that is the word for, among other things, an elaborate tattoo. (Oops, shouldn’t have said that; the director calls this character the Young Woman With a Secret. Well you won’t learn here what or where that tattoo is.)

This sort of reverence, replete with talk of priests, prophets and links to God, palls quickly, even for a viewer who was deeply moved by Mr. Gould — specifically, by CBS’s more rhapsodic second recording of the “Goldberg” Variations, also from 1981. (It was the first recording, in 1955, that made Mr. Gould famous.) But one is willing to grant the Russian woman Mr. Monsaingeon calls the Moscow Propagandist her description of Mr. Gould as “a kind of mythic, mystical figure.”

Mr. Monsaingeon, in one of his more arguable statements, says that “there was never anything artificial” about Mr. Gould. In fact, Mr. Gould’s whole public persona in his later years seems, if not artifice, at least a carefully calculated artifact.

He was always being filmed, even while making a film, and he doted on the attention. When a photographer approaches him in a studio, asking, “How do you feel about pictures?,” Mr. Gould protests too much, petulantly snapping, “Must I?”

It is tempting to see the later Mr. Gould’s whole public life — such as it was — as a performance, with all the world as his audience: detested by him, perhaps, yet avidly courted. He plays a sort of air piano on a train, fingering Chopin with one hand — gloved, as usual (because of poor circulation, it was said), and looking like a sock puppet. He conducts and sings Mahler before zoo elephants.

But inevitably, the heart of the film lies in Mr. Gould’s musical performances, however fragmentary most of them are. That fragmentary nature, in fact, more or less jibes with the Gouldian aesthetic that produced sweeping and coherent recordings from innumerable snippets meticulously selected and assembled.

It is wondrous to see how much music Mr. Gould carried around in that teeming mentality, if not at the tips of his fingers, without need of a score. (Music from Strauss’s densely orchestrated opera “Elektra,” complete with a vocal line ardently wailed? No problem.) The most astonishing moment comes when Mr. Gould fluently wends his way through the climactic section of the unfinished final fugue from Bach’s “Art of Fugue,” spouting thematic analysis and quoting Albert Schweitzer as he goes.

With allowances made for peculiarities, as there must always be in anything having to do with Mr. Gould, “Glenn Gould: Hereafter” is a masterly, rich distillation of Mr. Monsaingeon’s work on him over 35 years. And at Lincoln Center, it is only the beginning.



Giv Cornfield, Ph.D
The New Recordings, Cliffs Classics, October 2006

In Canada during the early 1950s, 'our' Glenn Gould was a household name. To a certain degree, he was even taken for granted. After all, we Canadians were on top of the world - and not just goegraphically. We had all those natural resources, our economy was booming, and even our dollar was worth $1.05 in United States currency! It was perfectly natural therefore that we should also have the best athletes and musical prodigies in the world.

Nor was there anything extraordinary about getting a telephone call one evening from Mr. Gould in Toronto. He was preparing for a concert at the annual Stratford Festival, and intended to play Bach on the harpsichord. We had just released an all-Bach LP with Kenneth Gilbert playing a Wittmeyer 2-manual instrument. At the time, that was the only such harpsichord in Canada, and Gould wanted to inquire about renting it for his performance.

Fast forward a few decades, and the Gould revival is in full swing. On the occasion of what would have been Glenn Gould's 74th birthday, the CBC in Toronto re-enacted Gould's 1955 recording of the Goldberg Variations for Columbia Records. In the Glenn Gould Studio, a specially-prepared Yamaha grand piano was placed center stage, as well as a very low stool, duplicating the peculiar keyboard position that Gould favoured. Without going into the hair-raising, complex technicalities of the project, let me just say that the original recording had been digitally transmuted into a form that the piano in question would reproduce, with all its nuances. This in turn would be made into a new recording, to be issued by Sony. This special "In Performance" program was produced by Eitan Cornfield, (my son, I'm proud to add.) I've listened to the CD. Words fail me...

Since his death at age 50 in 1982, Gould attained a cult following. Among his many champions, Bruno Monsaingeon is the most tireless and prolific, having directed seven films, many broadcasts, and had written four books on Glenn Gould. On the strength of having seen and heard several of these, I would venture to say that "Hereafter", his latest effort, is quite likely the best. He states that in order to convey the full range of the Gouldian mystique, he 'had to invent a new genre.' Assembling an odd cast of characters, some real and some acted, and made 'as if narrated by Gould himself.' One may or may not like this uncoventional treatment, but there can be no arguing about the musical selections (some previously unreleased), and the outstanding footage from the archives. An absolute must for Gouldians!



Baker & Taylor CD Hotlist, October 2006

Pianist Glenn Gould was one of the strangest and most gifted figures on the classical music scene in the 20th century, and there has been no shortage of examinations of his life and work. But this deeply affecting documentary, pieced together from archival interview and performance footage and edited so as to sound as if it were narrated by Gould himself, is one of the best I've seen or read. It brings home, in ways other treatments have not, both a sense of the mind-boggling talent and the constant psychological distress that were the twin hallmarks of Gould's genius. Very highly recommended.






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10:33:38 AM, 14 July 2014
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