I’m guilty. I heaped lavish praise upon back-to-back performances by up-and-coming young pianists late last month. Then I went to a sparsely attended Portland Ovations concert by a master who blew them both away with his musicality. I should have listened to my Rubenstein and Serkin recordings instead of being seduced by fireworks.

The pianist in question was Andreas Klein, playing the Bach Concerto in D Minor, BWV 1052, not a piece one would normally think of as a vehicle for virtuosi. With the fine Minguet String Quartet acting as a chamber orchestra, Klein gave a reading that enthralled from start to finish. Here was virtuosity to spare, but in the service of a thoroughly musical conception.

I didn’t review the concert but attended because of my lifelong interest in Canadian pianist, composer and critic Glenn Gould, who couldn’t have been less interested in piano technique. He once informed an audience of music teachers that anyone could learn to play the piano in half an hour, and he claimed never to practice.

The theme of the Minguet-Klein concert was “Homage to Glenn Gould,” and it consisted of works that he had made his own, such as the Bach concerto, plus a rare performance of his String Quartet in F Minor, Op. 1 (1953-1955).

I first encountered Gould at the Eastman Theater in Rochester, New York, in the early 1960s, soon after he had made a name for himself with his ground-breaking recording of the Bach “Goldberg Variations,” which made the previously definitive recording by Wanda Landowska sound academic, at least to a young student.

Gould was going to play the Bach “Art of the Fugue,” a seminal work that normally requires at least a string quartet to realize, as a piano solo. (The Minguet offered four of its Contrapunctus sections at the “Homage” concert.)

I don’t know if Gould performed his ritual soaking of the hands in warm water before the performance, but he appeared on stage in a dress shirt with major cufflinks and proceeded to lay out the score horizontally on top of the Steinway’s folded-down music stand. Gould was one of the first to eschew the Romantic notion of playing piano works from memory. (Klein also played Bach from a score, with a page-turner.)

Then, he fiddled with a specially constructed piano bench that enabled him to hold his forearms parallel to or below the keyboard. This turned out to be a problem, because Gould couldn’t see the score from that level and had to jump up occasionally to read the notes.

Halfway through the concert, one of Gould’s cufflinks let go during a score-reading leap and he played the rest of the evening with one starched cuff open and flapping in the breeze. It didn’t seem to faze him.

I enjoyed the evening, but my piano teacher wasn’t impressed, and the students in the gallery called Gould a “poet,” a term of opprobrium at a time when everyone’s ambition was to play Franz Liszt.

The String Quartet No. 1 was written four years before Gould’s rise to fame, and it should be listened to while reading his funny and informative article: “So you want to write a fugue.” The Quartet is long, about 35 minutes, and a strange amalgam of Arnold Schoenberg, Richard Strauss and J.S. Bach: Bach for counterpoint, Schoenberg for the development of a motif, and Strauss for late-Romantic harmonies.

The work wanders from time to time, which is when one can read the instructions to see what the composer was trying to do, but to anyone who loves all three of Gould’s primary influences, as I do, it has some very appealing moments. In Gould’s own spirit, someone should edit it. The word “sacrilege” was not in his vocabulary.

Christopher Hyde is a writer and musician who lives in Pownal. He can be reached at:

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