J.S. Bach

Recommended (or not) Recordings

English Suites

Main Performer
or Conductor:
Glenn Gould
Individual Works:English Suite #1 in A, BWV 806
English Suite #2 in a, BWV 807
English Suite #3 in g, BWV 808
English Suite #4 in F, BWV 809
English Suite #5 in e, BWV 810
English Suite #6 in d, BWV 811
Format:Compact Disc
Record Label:Sony Classical
Catalog Number:SM2K 52 606
Year Released/Recorded:1977
Total Playing Time:1:51:55
Comments:Alex Temple said:

This is a very good recording, NOT the best ever made, though. I have yet to hear that. Although sometimes too fast and "dry," the choice of articulation is superb. I like it a lot.

Jan Hanford said:

This recording is a nightmare, avoid it. It's about as relaxing as a root canal. His technique is a sad waste of talent, his tempos are ridiculously fast, his use of staccato is awful and his humming is beyond annoying.

Franþois Boudreau said:

I guess people love or hate this one; no in between. Would that be true of many of Gould's recordings? I wouldn't be surprised. Ms. Hanford's criticism is understandable, but if you're one of these people who have been captivated by Gould's wildness, you won't care about the humming, and you probably won't expect a relaxing ride -- so go for it. Listening to a couple of suites from this album keeps me awake and leaves me completely satiated. I also like this recording because, although I have heard other versions of these suites which I sometimes like better for specific parts, I find Gould's "conception" of any of these suites as a whole very tasteful and natural.

Julian Krishnamurti said:

You'd have to search a long time to hear the English Suites played better particularly the g minor and a minor Suites. The fugal gigues are, yes, played at breakneck speed. However, Gould performs them at such tempos and makes it work. They are not diminished, rather, exalted in their profundity. Conversely, prelude to the A major sounds as if it is the improvisation it probably started life as. Gould calmly picks up the pieces of the music and makes it a whole. He makes it breathe beautifully. His treatment of voices is second to none. Each voice, each line, is as it should be. Perfect in it's own dynamic and nuance. As for the humming...if you're going to listen to Glenn Gould, be prepared for humming and enjoy the humming. The humming is part of the performance, just as the chair, the gloves, the pills and the arrowroot cookies were. However, if you are one of those music lovers who can't abide Mr. Gould's playing, try the Andras Schiff recording.

Acknowledgements:Thank you to the following for submitting this recording and for your comments:
  • Alex Temple
  • Hans de Bruin
  • Franþois Boudreau
  • Julian Krishnamurti
Date First Submitted:11/28/1996