Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 1; Piano Concerto No. 5

COMPOSERS: Beethoven
LABELS: Music & Arts
WORKS: Piano Concerto No. 1; Piano Concerto No. 5
PERFORMER: Walter Gieseking (piano); Philharmonia Orchestra/Rafael Kubelík, Berlin Great Radio Orchestra/Artur Rother
Walter Gieseking, by contrast, sounds more modern and ‘responsible’, even though his technique, too, is extremely fluent. This performance of the First (1948) is bracing but feathery in the first movement and enchantingly delicate in the second, but I’ve always been disappointed by this poky, under-energised performance of the finale, no comparison to Gieseking’s 1937 recording with Rosbaud (itself less lively than many modern accounts) now on APR. The 1945 recording of the Emperor (a famous audio novelty recorded in stereo and on tape) is a genuinely satisfying performance in which Gieseking’s fluency attains sufficient power to meet this grand music on its own terms.