Beethoven by Gieseking – The Piano Sonatas / New Mastering + Presentation (Century’s recording)
Hy Friends, It is with great pleasure that I will present to you an almost complete series of the Beethoven piano sonatas, performed by the great pianist Walter Gieseking. Walter Gieseking is mainly recognized for his renditions of Mozart, Debussy and Ravel. However, he was known to perform the Beethoven thirty-two piano sonatas already by heart at the age of twenty (we correct). The present recordings date from 1949 to 1950. Gieseking was at that time over fifty years old. He had become very skilful in performing sonatas. I would like to emphasize an important point here: the audible technical imperfections are due to the age of these recordings, which don’t correspond to today’s standards of digital transcription. For some they are full of charm with a true stamp of authenticity, but many other listeners will listen to these recordings accepting their technical imperfections since they are worth taking heed to. This mode of interpreting Beethoven stems from a tradition, from an uninterrupted education that started in Beethoven’s time. Gieseking’s teachers grew up in this tradition which reaches back to the eighteenth and nineteenth century, and Gieseking himself transmitted it to us. To make you realize this, let us listen to the first measures of the first movement (allegro) of the Opus 2 # 1. It is utterly brilliant, isn’t it? A simple reading, posed, a technique that pours out straight from the source, a very classical interpretation. However, Gieseking knows how to keep his power and his extraordinary technical skills and withhold them until he lets run at the proper time. Let’s listen to an extract of the Arietta Opus 111. It is all quite impressive. In the passage of the Arietta that we just listened to, the rhythm is based on the demisemiquaver, of which there are twelve per measure. In addition, we have twelve hemidemisemiquaver notes which are played on the offbeat. It is quite a tough passage to perform at the real speed while holding up an expressive musical phrasing. To sum it up, in some passages Beethoven wants the sound to be fortified for an entire note or musical chord. Gieseking’s skill in all these difficulties confirms his Apollonian mastery of the tool. For professor Fabre, whom you already know, Gieseking is THE Apollonian pianist. This definition which refers to Apollo, is characterized by the order, the beat and serenity as opposed to Dionysiac which reflects an exuberant passion. Admittedly, vehemence is a characteristic feature of Beethoven, the man, and asserts itself also in his music. Nevertheless, Beethoven remains essentially a classical composer by virtue of his heritage. Therefore, Gieseking renounces to any kind of edgy emotion, but his manner of animating the melodic phrases gives his performance a profoundly human accent and dimension. It is full of nobility and distinction. Do enjoy listening to the Apollo of the Piano, Walter Gieseking, who at the time of this recording had reached the summit of his art. We wish you a wonderful listening session!