Friday, April 10, 2015

Mozart and Gieseking - Two Forces Cross Paths...

Walter Gieseking, the great French-German pianist, possessed enormous powers outside of his world powers as a musician. Two aspects of his veritably boundless gifts were his abilities to memorize and sight-read. To  sight read, at tempo, works of Debussy; or, to read any of the works of Mozart seemingly effortlessly , among others such as Mendelssohn and Schumann, were pursuits this fabled musician was known for.
One of the truly singular memories I have of my younger years was a prized gift at one of my birthdays; namely  the complete solo works of Mozart, played by Gieseking. I remember that it took almost ten hours to listen to these works just once. My mouth must have constantly been agape at the dimension of the solo works of Amadeus, not only in the experience of hearing the reality of his creations, but also at the reality of this pianist being able to, at  any appointed moment during this period of Gieseking's life,  play any of these works from memory.
Later on, as my musical education wore on, I realized that there WAS an omission in this giant Mozart Lexicon; and that was the so-called London Sketches that Mozart wrote during his 8th and 9th years. I can only suppose that Gieseking did not think much of these little pieces the genius child had written during, I believe, a family trip to the British Isle.
For me, Gieseking has always been one of the truly miraculous pianists of his, or any times. His approach to Mozart has such a magnificent sense of direction and purity, let alone a sound the likes  of which can only be heard, and not described.
Even in the years before digital technology, the sounds that Gieseking was able to cajole from a percussion instrument, especially in the music of Debussy - well, listen to the analog recordings for yourself.
I saw him just once, as a youngster - and I am quite sure that not  since his time has there been a pianist with as deep a pool of sound production, other than, perhaps, Michelangeli.
Do judge for yourself!

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