Not accidentally, the other performance that I greatly appreciate is from Kempff, who played with equal clarity and simplicity. Kempff inserted more space into the brooding music, and those moments of silence are as magic and effective as music notes. His rare capability of articulation and succinctness matches the sober melancholy of meditative Brahms. At his best, the playing, even at the highest point of crispy clear and crystal pure, sounds just pianissimo.
But to my surprise, it was the least contrapuntal sound from the eccentric pianist. Instead of speaking multiple voices with puncture, emphasis, tension and release, Glenn Gould was conversing amicably. If he revolutionized Bach with irresistible romanticism, he was conventional and at home when it comes to Late Brahms.
Gould provided me a slightly more abstract interpretation. The syncopation from both hands, a little bit odd at the very beginning, came natural and harmonious. It is as if Gould was conversing with Brahms at ease, both soft spoken and both humble and reserved; but soon the voices merge into one. Whether it is Gould is submerged in Brahms thoughts or Brahms finds his soul mate for his final discourse, I didin’t know. I only knew, thought it was still warm, the mood had changed into autumnal.