- Purchase any product from the Music Store sold by Amazon.co.uk and receive £1 to use on any music download in our MP3 Store. UK customers only. Here's how (terms and conditions apply)
|1. I. Danseuses de Delphes|
|2. II. Voiles|
|3. III. Le vent dans la plaine|
|4. IV. 'Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir' - Ch. Baudelaire|
|5. V. Les collines d'Anacapri|
See all 24 tracks on this disc
|1. I. Prélude|
|2. II. Sarabande|
|3. III. Toccata|
|4. I. Pagodes|
|5. II. La soirée dans Grenade|
See all 18 tracks on this disc
|1. Pour les cinq doigts|
|2. Pour les tierce|
|3. Pour les quartes|
|4. Pour les sixtes|
|5. Pour les ocatves|
See all 19 tracks on this disc
|3. Clair de lune|
|5. Danse bohémienne (1995 Digital Remaster)|
See all 14 tracks on this disc
As for those who persist in finding Gieseking's interpretations "unromantic" or otherwise "Germanic" in their exposition, I would hasten to quash their criticism utterly on all grounds other than, of course, the final arbiter of personal taste. If certain listeners unfamiliar with the true Romantic Piano Tradition as exemplified on record by the likes of Hofmann, Schnabel, Paderewski, Godowsky, et al., and hence adopted by such devoted musicians as Gieseking, prefer their Debussy presented in formless, meter-less, pedal-heavy miasmatic tides of indistinct sounds, washing over them like a Turner seascape but leaving them knowing nothing about the pieces nor perceiving their true beauties as miniature art works, then by all means, latch on to some nameless modern practitioner painting his murky pictures on a five-dollar "Debussy For A Sunday Afternoon" compilation, and draw your bath. But at the least let it not be forgotten that, while Debussy undeniably influenced Ravel in the latter's orchestral works, the reverse is also true, and it was the neo-classicist Ravel from whom Debussy took his lead in forging his most worthwhile piano music.
What follows is by a contemporary of Giesekings' named Abram Chasins, writing in his 1957 book SPEAKING OF PIANISTS, published just a few months after Gieseking's death:
"Every now and then one attends a performance that casts a spell of enchantment. It does not happen often. But Walter Gieseking's all-Debussy program at Carnegie Hall in 1955 was such an occasion. From the first note of the Suite Bergamasque to the fourth encore, `General Lavine,' it was an evening of magic. Few of the many musicians present would have challenged the publisher's right to print on the music: `Private Property of Walter Gieseking. No Trespassing!'
"He evoked excitement, transparency, and movement throughout. Occasionally he would choose to hold his audience hypnotically suspended through an ethereal pianissimo or a section of tremulous repose. With endless refinements of touch and pedaling, once phrase grew out of another. Climaxes developed with the inevitable force and upward sweep that stamp the musician and the architectural master. In each piece we perceived an artist living in the very sound he was creating. He painted, so to speak, with fingers dipped in the hues of Degas, Renoir, Manet, and Bonnard. The sum was a tableau of surpassing beauty, color, and poetry emerging from a Baldwin.
"Sometime later I turned to the Columbia LP recordings of Gieseking's 1951 performances of Debussy's two books of preludes, Children's Corner, and Suite Bergamasque; the reissue of the artist's 1939 playing of Estampes and Images; and, finally, to Gieseking's Angel recordings of Ravel's piano works. These, too, confirmed the fact that Gieseking clearly ruled the domain of impressionism.
"I found myself listening time and time again to one piece after another, enthralled and mystified. Mystified that the unearthly sounds could possibly come from a piano or from any determinable instrument set into vibration by human energy. This is disembodied aural beauty, the intoxication of sensuous perfume, the blaze of sunlight, the shimmer of moonlight on water.
"And how is this done? It is done with love, with knowledge, with vision. It is also done with a technical equipment adequate to the demands of a glowing imagination. Only the perfect co-ordination of the strongest arms and the most independent fingers can produce such delicate suavity. Arms and fingers are not all, for Gieseking's pedaling was a miracle. He could pedal throughout changing harmonies, retaining each for its own identity; he could pedal throughout a melodic line, yet keep the progressive action of a cantabile.
"The most kaleidoscopic mixtures of colors paradoxically emerge spotlessly clean and clear. Releases are as precise as attacks. Gieseking could increase or reduce dynamics in the space of a split second, from the subtlest pianissimo to the most sonorous fortissimo (and the other way around), and have it sound absolutely inevitable, all of a piece. He had unique command of suspended motion with vibration, like that of a hummingbird hovering over a flower. One hears a perfectly spaced, pearly articulation for some figuration, and above or below it another figuration will come through as undulation produced as though by a boneless and muscleless hand. And always the music came first, always the motion of the drama was carried forward. Such playing is the ultimate in mastery and sensuous elegance, the result of a scrupulous care that marks genius. Everything is present to the nth degree: knowledge, precision, tonal color, radiance, iridescence, limpidity. And their wonderful balances and blendings are luminous and wondrous. [French Impressionism's] range of resplendent expressivity extracted from Gieseking a rare state of inspiration, the kind that depersonalizes an artist and enables his auditors to catch glimpses of eternity."