"Listen to the anti-aircraft volleys at 1:57, 5:20, 13:29, and 16:43 (the cadenza) of the first movement (preferably with headphones, so you can turn up the volume to capture this haunting aural image) and then be prepared to be astonished by the performance of this magnificent work. Presumably it was recorded at night-when British aircrews flew solo sorties (as opposed to the American formation-flying during the day) at intervals which, to judge by the ak-ak, were from 3 to 3-1/2 minutes. Whatever the case, this is a spectacular confluence of art and history with the Greater Berlin Rundfunk Orchestra playing as if their lives depended on it. Detractors of historic recordings can't fail to be impressed with the beauty and majesty of the second movement, a stirring, soulful melody which, if you were not acquainted with the horrors occuring inside Nazi Germany at the time, might make you wish you could help pass the ammunition."
Stunning, intense, war-time Emperor Concerto
Doug | 09/26/1998
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is just about the most intense Beethoven "Emperor" Concerto on record, recorded in Berlin in 1944. Gieseking's playing is truly overpowering (in contrast, for example, to his 1951 recording with Karajan). The thoroughgoing organisation and emotional logic and intensity of the orchestral contribution leads one to imagine that Furtwangler is on the podium in the Beethoven as well as the Schumann. The Schumann has been issued before (DG, paired with Schumann's cello concerto), but is rather flawed. The stereo (!) sound on the Beethoven is superior to most recordings of the time."
Doug | 11/17/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The recording of Emperor Concerto on this CD is worth having not only for the wonderful performance, but also for the historical signifigance. This version of the Emperor Concerto was recorded in stereo on magnetic tape; at a time when this technology had just been invented and was still experimental. Also there was an air raid going on outside while this recording was being made. Listen closely on a good stereo system. There are a few places where you can hear the explosions outside."
" Although I dislike Gieseking' s Beethoven, I must confess we are before a great Emperor, filled of mercurial vitality and exultant jubilee. Nerve and muscle blend in this interesting version, that, far beyond historical reasons, the performance has per se abundant reasons to be included among the most representative ones.
As you know, no other pianist has been able to interweave and play the piano with such incorporeal sound, this approach works out and fits adequately to Debussy, Ravel, Mozart and Mendelssohn, but may sound artificial and weak in others composers
Gieseking recorded three times this concerto but this is the most sturdy of the set. Recorded in the last months of the WW2, you may feel however a major sense of the span as well as a thunderous fingering without splitting its intimate daintiness and well know aristocratic taste.
The Grief is OK but Liappti' s performance is simply unsurmountable.