Glenn Gould is probably the best-known classical pianist of the 20th century. This is down to his immense technical ability and also his set of idiosyncrasies. When out in public, he would rarely remove his thick wool gloves. He always performed and practiced the piano seated on a modified chair which sat extremely low, at an unorthodox height. He retired from concert performance at the tender age of 31. The list goes on. "Genius Within" is probably the best film portrait of Gould yet to be released. The first half is gripping. We watch this young upstart from a small Canadian town capture wild plaudits after his debut concerts in New York. Then he reaches an even wider audience after his masterful recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations sees release:
Gould brought a vibrancy and fresh approach to the rather obscure Goldberg Variations. His playing on that record is a delight, a marvelous blend of precision and panache.
The latter half of the film "Genius Within" does drag. It's difficult to bring Gould's private years to life on screen. He became an isolationist and mostly retreated to the recording studio, putting down on tape his singular interpretations of keyboard classics. During his later years he also produced an occasional scripted radio program, and painstakingly documenting every one of his bodily tics (Gould was a notorious hypochondriac). There's more to be explored here; unfortunately "Genius Within" does a poor job explicating this period of time.
And then Gould was gone, deceased far too soon. He leaves behind him a vicious wake. He life resembled a fireball: burn bright, scorch the landscape, and then keep on moving.
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