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William Hedley
MusicWeb International, March 2012

Walter Gieseking has long been one of my favourite pianists in the music of Debussy, so I was intrigued to know how I would feel about his Beethoven playing. The result is a triumph.

I was most apprehensive about the sound… My technical knowledge of recorded sound restoration is virtually nil, and I haven’t heard these performances in any other transfers. These two factors should be taken into account when I say that it seems to me that Ward Marston has worked miracles with these recordings. Background hiss is fairly high, but it has been most sensitively dealt with, fading in and out, for example; also, it is maintained between movements so as not to break the atmosphere, a nice touch. In short, whilst you never forget you are listening to 78 rpm records, you are conscious that they are in pristine condition and that they are not going to wear out! The piano sound itself is clean and immediate, and is that the pianist himself humming or groaning here and there? All this helps the listener concentrate on the music and the playing and (almost) to forget about the sound.

Do listen to these performances. They are not mainstream, but they are very satisfying indeed. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review



Christopher Howell
MusicWeb International, January 2012

So I wonder; was Gieseking thinking here of the fortepiano? Textures are kept light and clean—the opening chords of the Waldstein are sometimes quoted as the sort of Beethoven that sounds muddy on the modern piano, but not when Gieseking plays them. The Beethovenian argument is conveyed with speed and vitality, the pianist even seeming to run over his own fingers at times.

…performances to make you reassess your reactions to the music. And teachers and parents of children learning op.49/2 should consider the modest price worth paying just for a perfect performance of that little work. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review



Bryce Morrison
Gramophone, December 2011

Walter Gieseking…at his finest…offers playing of an astonishing fleetness and patrician beauty. Gieseking creates his own distinctive ambience and, like a river in full spate, sweeps all before him.

Gieseking once again creates his own entirely personal sense of menace and power. Such playing, like being at the centre of a vortex and by the pianist’s own admission, had little to do with hours spent in the practice room but rather with an innate musical and technical talent and perception. All lovers of an entirely individual pianistic genius will have to have this and, once again, Ward Marston’s restoration is exemplary.

To read the complete review, please visit Gramophone online.



David Denton
David's Review Corner, September 2011

Born in France of German parents, Walter Gieseking became recognised as one of the finest interpreters of the French Impressionist composers. Yet his concert debut was made playing Beethoven’s sonatas, and they were to become an important part of a career interrupted by two world wars. He travelled extensively, and prior to his questionable relationship with the Nazi party, was highly acclaimed in the United States where two of the sonata recordings were made in 1939. Critics at the time saw his performances as very different in approach to Schnabel and Kempff, the two leading Beethoven exponents of the time, Gieseking more interested in the passion and drama than the soul searching of his contemporaries. Certainly in his account of the Waldstein everything is staked on extracting the maximum degree of excitement, the pulse changing frequently as the mood takes him. At times in the outer movements racing forward faster than his extremely nimble fingers can control. I guess in the concert hall it must have been an energizing experience. Much the same can be said of his outgoing Appassionata where he keeps the central movement moving without sentimentality. I find his Twenty-eighth episodic, yet the most interesting on the disc, while his highly detailed account of the Thirtieth has much to commend it.  The sound quality is variable, the Twentieth made in Berlin in 1940 sounding more akin to a forte piano, but two years earlier the Waldstein is admirable. The New York sessions—for the Twenty-third and Twenty-eighth—are outstanding for the era. The transfers are admirable.






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