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Colin Clarke's review of Gieseking's stereo wartime recording of Beethoven's Emperor from January 20
Posted by Ed Reichenbach on January 11, 2011, 10:43 am
While I've enjoyed Colin Clarke's review of Music & Arts CD1145 with Gieseking's recording of Beethoven's 5th piano concerto with Arthur Rother, apparently the first stereo recording of a complete work, dating from (sources differ) October 1944 or January 1945, I am at a loss to understand where he got his impression of the finale, which he describes as "dour", "deliberatly undynamic", "never exultant". Objectively, he is entirely off the mark: the movement clocks at 9:36, and this certainly qualifies as "dynamic". Compare to Horowitz-Reiner's 9:33, Leon Fleisher's and Julius Katchen's 9:36, Serkin and Walter's 9:53 (1934 with the Vienna Phil), Serkin and Bernstein's 9:55 (1962). You want "undynamic"? Go to Barenboim-Klemperer (11:01), even to Curzon-Knappertsbusch (10:25). And I don't have the timings of the recordings of Kempff or Arrau.
Of course, subjective impressions aren't just based on tempo and timing. I'm still puzzled with Colin Clarke's subjective reaction to what he heard. What I hear is a finale that is uniquely dynamic and exultant. I think Colin Clarke needs to give it another try, and let us know if his impression is confirmed - and if so, try and analyse what the impression is so much at odds with the objective parameters.
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