Walter Gieseking

Walter Gieseking Plays Brahms

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Walter Gieseking doesn't play anywhere near all the notes in this two-disc set of works by Brahms, Schubert, and Schumann. He's alright in the easier works, like the famous A major Intermezzo from Brahms' Opus 118, but more complex works like the same composer's Rhapsody in B minor, Op. 79/1, leave the pianist sounding overmatched. Despite these seemingly insurmountable drawbacks, Gieseking nevertheless gets beneath the skin of the music. Taken from Columbia recordings made in Zürich in 1951, his Brahms playing is soulful, lyrical, and above all melancholy -- necessary qualities for Brahms. The same can be said for Gieseking's performance of Schubert's Drei Klavierstücke recorded in London in 1956 and his performance of Schumann's Piano Sonata No. 1 recorded in Berlin in 1942. He leaves out a bunch of notes in Schubert's opening Allegro assai, and he hits many a clunker in Schumann's closing Allegro un poco Maestoso. But Schubert's soaring melodies and Schumann's yearning themes are totally compelling, and, in the final analysis, that is arguably more than enough. Urania's remastered sound is unfortunately dim and dull, but surprisingly clean and direct.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Pieces (8) for piano, Op. 76
1
2:40
2
3:00
3
1:52
4
2:25
5
2:40
6
3:24
7
2:38
8
2:57
Fantasias (7) for piano, Op. 116
9
2:01
10
2:58
11
2:37
12
4:03
13
2:55
14
2:59
15
2:09
Pieces (6) for piano, Op. 118
16
1:31
17
5:22
18
2:50
19
2:51
20
3:21
21
4:50
Pieces (4) for piano, Op. 119
22
3:11
23
4:10
24
1:35
25
3:53
blue highlight denotes track pick