BACH: The Six Sonatas for Violin and Harpsichord. Jaime Laredo, violin; Glenn Gould, piano (Columbia M2 34226, teo records). Too frequently, recordings of this music present Mr. Virtuoso on the violin and someone-or-other at the keyboard (though it has gone out of style to refer to keyboard "accompaniment"). This dazzlingly original reading shows two partners working together as equals, paying scant attention to mummified performance traditions and giving the music dimensions hardly suspected in other interpretations. It is vulnerable to criticism (any Gould performance is; any performance that goes beyond carefulness is), and I will not discard the Menuhin-Malcolm set, but I will replay this one often for the pure joy of it.
HINDEMITH: Complete Sonatas for Brass and Piano. Glenn Gould, piano; members of The Philadelphia Brass Ensemble (Columbia M2 33971, two records). Rightly beloved by players of brass instruments (how often can you use a trombone or a tuba in chamber music?) and, of course, revered by the small but dedicated band of Hindemith fans (which this record should increase significantly), these five works featuring in turn horn, bass tuba, trumpet, alto horn and trombone, deserve a wider public. The music, although by a single composer and written for a single family of instruments, has a splendid diversity of flavors and temperaments, from the dryness which is sometimes alleged as Hindemith's specific quality to romantic yearning, impulsive bravado, rhythmic vigor, broad comedy. The performances and sound could hardly be better.
BEETHOVEN: The Five Piano Concertos. Glenn Gloud, piano; Leonard Bernstein, Leopold Stokowski, Vladimir Golschmann conducting (Odyssey Y4 34640, four records). As long as the Fleisher-Szell set is available (and, like this one, at a bargain price), the efforts of Gould and his three conductors (Stokowski in the Emperor , Golschmann in No. 1, Bernstein in the middle three) will interest primarily those who want occasionally to hear a dissenting opinion on this music. Still, Gould always rethinks what he is playing and emerges with a bold, original concept; he makes the often-heard music happen again as though for the first time, and of course his technique is brilliant.