by Peter Njoroge, Domestique young gun
One of the (only) great things about being alive in 2020 is that for a pretty minuscule amount of money you can summon, like a deity, pretty much anything in the history of recorded music at all times. Music can be like wallpaper that follows you and your headphones around anywhere that you go. I try pretty hard to use this awesome responsibility to check out as much new material as I can, but I always seem to gravitate toward the things that never seem to get old. Glenn Gould’s 1981 recording of The Goldberg Variations is one of those special albums that I rarely miss a day without listening.
Gould’s playing here is non-sensational, unromantic, and the music is really baroque. Even as far as classical music is concerned, nothing here jumps out at you or, maybe, is even supposed to jump out at you. It’s not very cool, Gould isn’t very cool, and yet it’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard. His revisitation of the Goldbergs (he recorded the same variations in 1955) is so clear, so stylized, so full of artistic conviction that I can’t really get my head around what’s happening, and the music sounds brand new every time I listen to it. If you’re not paying attention, the temptation to check out can be overwhelming. In all honesty, to be very reductive, the album contains a lot of similar-sounding solo piano. But, if you really tune in, you get to be a part of something that was a lifetime in the making.
This is what my favorite producers do and why I love their wines. I’m similarly floored by the dedication to craft and the manifestation of nuance that my favorite winemakers are able to create. In the same way as Gould, they marry expertise, understanding, and individual personality in a way that’s truly singular.
So, they might not all have the most beautiful labels, they might not all have the coolest story and, honestly, someone might just have to tell you about it. But, like few other things in this world, all my favorite wines inspire the same kind of ecstasy that listening to Gould’s playing does.
WINE I'M DRINKING RIGHT NOW: Ludovic Chanson Implicite, baroque in its own kinda way
LISTENING TO: A Rift in Decorum: Live at the Village Vanguard, exploratory and meditative