Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:

(1862 - 1918)
Suite bergamasque 15.43
Pagodas 4.08
La Soiree dans Grenade 4.14 (from "Estampes")
Reflets dans l'eau 4.39 (from "Images 1")
L'Isle joyeuse 4.55
MAURICE RAVEL (1875 - 1937)
Sonatine 10.03
La Vallee des cloches 4.51 (from "Miroirs")

(1810 - 1856)
Kreisleriana. Op. 16 29.33

Walter Gieseking (pno).
Recorded BBC Studios, London. 29 Sept 1956 (Debussy, Ravel)
Recorded BBC Studios, London. 6 Dec 1953 (Schumann)
MONO recording. BBC Records. BBCL 4030-2 [79.04]

The Debussy / Gieseking recordings on EMI may be quite well known to many potential buyers of this disc, as well as the single disc released very recently by the same company in their "Great Recordings of the Century." So is this release sufficiently different to the commercial recordings to warrant its purchase. I would say yes.

The current disc is better recorded than the EMI release, which has a slightly metallic, artificial sound to it. This BBC issue is very natural for the Debussy and Ravel offerings. The Schumann, recorded only two years earlier, has some additional tape hiss which shows how fast technology was moving at that time.

Gieseking has a very distinctive way of playing the music of his french compatriots - stylish but also totally unshowy, which I find very attractive. His technique is put totally at the disposal of the composer and this is quite clear in all of the works on this disc, including the non french Schumann.

Although Kreisleriana is given a very stylish and warm performance, the aforementioned tape hiss I found somewhat distracting. It is not that the level of hiss is particularly high, it is more that the level changes from track to track during the work. So if you want a recording of Kreisleriana only, I would look elsewhere, unless you are more tolerant than myself to this.

There are few enough recordings of Walter Gieseking available at present apart from live concert recordings and this issue is a major addition to the catalogue. I enjoyed it very much.


John Phillips

see also review by Harry Downey


John Phillips

Reviews from previous months

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