I first heard the bright Canadian pianist Stewart Goodyear in a memorable recital in Cincinnati a couple of years ago. Since then I have looked forward to hearing him again, either in recording or live.
In a musical homage to a fellow Canadian simply titled Stewart Goodyear FOR GLENN GOULD, recently released by Sono Luminus, Goodyear traverses six centuries during a sixty-six minute journey that never satiates but leaves one thoroughly satisfied with a banquet of music for the keyboard that includes pieces by two High Renaissance/Early Baroque masters: Orlando Gibbons and Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, six compositions by J. S. Bach, two intermezzi of Brahms, an Alban Berg sonata and, at the end of the CD, an aria from Bach’s Goldberg Variations.
In this musical valentine to an artist whom he deeply admires, Goodyear replicates a program he heard as a young aspiring pianist many years ago, writing: “While paying homage to one of the great Canadian legends, I was being transported to childhood memories of growing up in Toronto, studying at the Royal Conservatory, Gould’s home alma mater, and being an artist from Canada, Gould’s country.”
Stewart Goodyear’s playing is nothing short of extraordinary, not only in its chameleonic way of switching technical and musical gears from Gibbons and Sweelinck’s music, conceived as it all was for the gentlest of keyboard instruments, to Brahms’ sweeping romanticism and from there to Alban Berg’s atonal severity.
Goodyear’s profoundly respectful approach to all of this music makes us marvel at the honesty and integrity of this artist: there is neither a hint of selfish grandstanding, nor a shred of showing-off, but total devotion to the composer’s intentions. All of the embellishments are executed just as they should, cleanly and unselfconsciously. When power of attack is to be summoned, Goodyear summons it, and throughout the entire album the Canadian pianist imbues his music-making with an ideally even mix of a cool head and a warm heart.
As is always the case with this enterprising label, the engineering by Daniel Shores is crystalline, and the nicely annotated booklet sheds light on both music and musician.
Stewart Goodyear FOR GLENN GOULD is a gift from a gifted artist.
Rafael de Acha