Adding as subtraction

Glenn Gould on his process of recording the Goldberg Variations in 1955: "When I recorded Bach's Goldberg Variations, I by-passed the theme -- the very simple aria upon which the variations are constructed -- and left it for recording until all the variations had been satisfactorily put down on tape. I then turned to that ingenious little sarabande, and found that it took me twenty takes in order to locate a character for it which would be sufficiently neutral as not to prejudge the depth of involvement that comes later in the work. It was a question of utilizing the first twenty takes to erase all superfluous expression from my reading of it, and there is nothing more difficult to do. The natural instinct of the performer is to add, not to subtract. In any case, the theme, as represented on my recording of the Goldberg Variations, is Take 21."