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In 1944, a primitive form of stereo sound was used to record a performance by the German pianist Walter Gieseking (1895- 1956) with the Berlin Reichsender Orchestra, led by Artur Rother, an opera specialist. Given the Second World War- era setting and the anti-aircraft fire faintly audible during the first movement, it is unsurprising that Gieseking adopted tempos that are sometimes so brisk. Gieseking’s 1934 recording of the ‘Emperor’ the Vienna Philharmonic and Bruno Walter is of greater pianistic interest. A 1951 studio Beethoven Fourth has the UK’s Philharmonia Orchestra conducted with intermittent languor by Herbert von Karajan. Gieseking is in muted, if still masterfully limpid, form. A previous 1939 recording with the Saxon State Orchestra and Karl Böhm is a more straightforward indication of Gieseking’s mastery in this repertory, but this is certainly worth hearing for every piano lover.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Piano International, 2014 - ©Rhinegold Publishing