Friday, December 6, 2013

Walter Gieseking - A Pianist Who Defied the Impossible...

During my high school years, I recall carrying an album which bore the performance of the Grieg piano concerto. I was on my way to one of my friend's home for the purpose of introducing him to this particular performance, done by the great French/German  pianist Walter Gieseking. What still comes back to me were the glittering passages, like solar waves of wonderfully wrought molten forms of an energy that I had not experienced before in my young years.
And from that defining day, through my schooling and developmental mid years, to this moment, I have listened to and studied the ways of this artist.  I continue to marvel at the sounds that this man was able to cajole out of an instrument that belongs to the percussion family. How was this man able to venture so far away from the reality that his fingers  were striking keys, which in turn struck strings - how was he able to conceal the 'striking' aspect of the pianistic process as no other  pianist has been able to achieve so much of the time, especially in the playing of Debussy?
One cannot experience the  sounds that this man could produce by going to youtube, or through some postage-stamp sized speakers. In order to be able to glean the uniqueness of tonal production that Gieseking gives is to hear the recordings through large, top-quality speakers, and at room-volume level; that is, at the same volume level as if a live piano was  being played upon in the same room.
Then - listen to a miracle, especially in hearing something like "What the West Wind Saw" by Debussy.
The playing of Mozart, Beethoven or Brahms by this man is wonderful, indeed- I remember owning the complete solo piano works of Mozart as done by Gieseking, and they are a revelation.
However, it is in his playing of  the music of Debussy and Ravel, wherein the piano must assume a new position in its golden history - this is the Gieseking that should not be overlooked, less forgotten.
Michelangeli, for me, with his quicksilver sounds, is the one more recent  pianist who most successfully  approached the kinds of sound production that Gieseking produced in the music of Debussy.
But the enormous sense of intuit need to create the colors that Walter Gieseking  produced is still one of my great experiences as a listener of some experience...



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