Walter Gieseking discussion thread

If you’ve downloaded the ~20 GB of Gieseking recs, feel free to discuss Gieseking and his recordings here.

Well, the most epically wonderful rec for me were the Symphonic Etudes from the Andromeda set.
Incredible range of colors, the timing, the absolute technical control. I haven’t heard these played so well! Jeez.

The homochords are incredible too, the Liszt 12th Rhapsody is a classic performance, right up there with the Barere live rec.

The Gieseking vars on the Grieg - I’ve listened to this like 6 times, a great piece. The last variation kind of rambles on but the rest are top notch. Playing is wonderful of course. The flute does a GUD job as well.

The thing I’ve discovered is that even though people like to say Gieseking was much worse after the war, I actually enjoy his post war recs every bit as much as the early stuff. Obviously the late 40s and early 50s broadcasts are amazing, but I enjoy most of the EMI studio recordings too. The RIAS broadcasts, which are from 1955 (except for the Debussy and the Beethoven 4th concerto which are 1950) are some of his best work, in my opinion. The Gaspard is my favourite, the Tempest Sonata is probably his best, and everything else is of a similarly high calibre.

I’d say the few poor recordings he made are VASTLY outnumbered by the great ones. I’m not sure how Gieseking got the reputation he has, but it’s wrong.

They are merely parroting what Harold Schonberg wrote in “Great Pianist”, saying he was a completely different pianist after the war.

I don’t like when people make assumptions based on a few records.
Most of all, it pissed me off when people hear ONE recording, happen to not like it - and go on to say that the artist in question sucks.

I heard people tell me “Rachmaninoff was a pretty shitty pianist” - that’s an exact quote. And “Gieseking’s Rach 3 sounds like he learned it on the train”.

Honestly - smart people would not make statements like that.
And yes, this is coming from da TRUMOFO, infamous shock jock and rabid republican flat earth earther 8)

I love the late rec of the Grieg Lyrical Pieces… just stunning.
Randomly he was in top shape right up to his death, but he was 60 when he died - that’s not old for a pianist at all.

Horowitz was at his best when he was in his 60’s, randomly. But I digress.

I’ve reached the same conclusion. What I’ve also discovered however is that he seems to have been a lot more careless after the war. I think this is especially true of his studio radio broadcasts, where he seems to have been entirely in the hands of the producers and just assumed they would be aired once and then be forever forgotten. You get a sense of his attitude towards them through his 1952 bout with Urania, who offered to issue a series of his broadcasts. WG flatly refused, and when they went ahead with his Kreisleriana and Davidsbündlertänze anyway he took them to court to have them removed from the market.

For me, I was totally stunned by the beauty of his rendition of the late Brahms pieces, Schubert Impromptus, Mendelssohn Songs w/o Words and early Beethoven PC 4. His Kreisleriana, Carnaval and live Liszt PC 1 are a revelation!

the Alborado which Chris just posted - from 1938 on that Pearl disc, man oh man - it is SO FUCKING GOOD.

Much better than Lipatti IMHO

That’s not really saying much though. :wink: I like Richter best in the piece, though Gilels is remarkably impressive too.

My favorite Giesekings are the 1945 Emperor and maybe the Franck w Taschner. The Emperor is really the finest performance I’ve heard of the work, and stunningly recorded for the time too.

Yeah, Lipatti isn’t my cup of tea any more, tru.

I love his 1939 Beethoven 4. He actually plays Beethoven like it is music, not some old fart Museum relic shitting into a colonoscopy bag like an urtext-bound loser with not enough tech to play a proper scale.

That was a Trumofoism right there.
Brendel and Barren-Boy did for Beethoven what Leslie Howard did for Liszt.


I like Lipatti better than Gieseking.

To each his own 8)

I was never into Lipatti’s immaculate style anyway.

It’s like taking a picture of a beautiful woman and beating off to it instead of actually banging the chick


In general, or the Alborada?

In general, I haven’t listened to Gieseking’s Alborada yet.

Lipatti in his Liszt Concerto and ballsier like the Alborado.
I honestly don’t see what the fuss with Lipatti is all about.

I assuming you’ve listened to all the same recs I have, so if it doesn’t do it for you probably nothing I could say would change your mind.

I do like the Chopin 3rd Sonata 1947 rec and the first Chopin Concerto from 1950… but I don’t adore them 8)

with all due rezpek of course. I know he is a supremely great pianist, just nothing of his grabbed my by the ______ yet. But tastes evolve over time.

I remember when I first heard Friedman’s playing I didn’t particularity like it. Now he’s my favorite pianist along with Richter and Gieseking tru.

I might as well come out of the closet with Lipatti too. As Mikhail says he was an excellent pianist of course - more professional and certainly more immaculate than Gieseking - but in my frame of reference there’s only so far such qualities take you. A two-dimensional sound, narrow dynamic range, little coloring or depth… And to my ears everything with him sits on a string, almost like he’s just reciting the multiplication table. I mean, hello? Here I am, talk to me.

In his (my) defense however I also think we never got the full picture of him. Simple sound, straight forward phrasing etc - that’s true of a lot of pianists in their 20s and early 30s.

His lyrical playing moves me more than any other pianist except maybe Fiorentino.
To my ears his final recital is the greatest on record.
In general I don’t like perfectionist pianists (e.g. Zimerman, ABM, Sokolov) but Lipatti is just so pure and poised.

Yes… I don’t see pure perhaps, but everything is remarkably clear and direct when he’s at the helm. As with any such discussion what it boils down to is what aspects are important to you when listening. For me, during the last 5-6 years at least, I’ve discovered it’s overwhelmingly about sound production. If you don’t have that, you need to be remarkably quirky and inventive with what you do with the music to capture my interest.