Walter Gieseking · Live Performances from Hollywood Bowl 1955-1956 ∙ 2CD


In the summer of 1938, Walter Gieseking was scheduled to appear at the Hollywood Bowl, but the concert had to be cancelled due to illness. Engagements at the Hollywood Bowl eventually did take place, with a pair in August 1955 and a return the following August. Three out of four open-air concerts were recorded live by NBC, marking their first appearance on CD. A critic wrote with enthusiasm “The opportunity to hear Walter Gieseking play a piano concerto and a group of solo pieces lured an audience of healthy proportions to Hollywood Bowl. The atmosphere was definitely festive one can always sense this and everyone had obviously come with great anticipation and full of eager.” Gieseking’s final Hollywood Bowl concert in August 1956, just two months before his death in London, featured his last known live recording. The program included Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s Cipressi, Op.17, and Cyril Scott’s Lotus Land, which were not part of his commercial recordings.

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WALTER GIESEKING at the Hollywood Bowl

CD 1

SCHUMANN: Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op 54
Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra
Erich Leinsdorf · conductor
RAVEL: Une barque sur l’océan, from Miroirs, M 43, No 3
RAVEL: Ondine, from Gaspard de la nuit, M 55, No 1
RAVEL: Alborada del gracioso, from Miroirs, M 43, No 4
STRAUSS/GIESEKING: Ständchen, Op 17, No 2
DEBUSSY: Clair de lune, from Suite bergamasque, L 75, No 3

Recorded: 23 August 1955 · Los Angeles · Hollywood Bowl · NBC · Live Recording

RACHMANINOFF: Piano Concerto No 2 in C Minor, Op 18
Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra
Izler Solomon · conductor
Recorded: 16 August 1956 · Los Angeles · Hollywood Bowl · NBC · Live Recording

CD 2

SCHUBERT: Impromptu No 3 in B-flat Major, D 935
SCHUBERT: Impromptu No 4 in A-flat Major, D 899
MENDELSSOHN: Rondo Capriccioso, Op 14
SCARLATTI: Sonata in D Minor, K 9, L 413
MENDELSSOHN: Lieder ohne Worte in E Major, Op 19, No 1

Recorded: 16 August 1956 · Los Angeles · Hollywood Bowl · NBC · Live Recording

GRIEG: Piano Concerto in A minor, Op 16
Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra
Izler Solomon · conductor
SCOTT: Lotus Land, Op 47, No 1
DEBUSSY: Arabesque No 1, L 66
DEBUSSY: Arabesque No 2, L 66
DEBUSSY: Golliwogg’s Cakewalk, from Children’s Corner, L 113, No 6
GRIEG: Trolltog « March of the dwarfs » from Book V, Op 54, No 3

Recorded: 23 August 1956 · Los Angeles · Hollywood Bowl · NBC · Live Recording

Article number: MC 1041
UPC barcode: 791154054444
Release date: 16 July 2019
Booklet: 8 Pages
Total timing: 78:50 CD1 ∙ 79:44 CD2
From the Original Masters ∙ © 2019 Meloclassic

December 2019 ∙ British Gramophone ∙ Rob Cowan ∙ Walter Gieseking ∙ At the Hollywood Bowl 1955-56
A set dedicated to Walter Gieseking (2 CDs, MC1041) at the Hollywood Bowl 1955-56 has some unforgettable highlights. Best of all is Mendelssohn’s Rondo capriccioso, where Gieseking’s lightness of touch spins a magic not present on any other version I’ve heard. Two Schubert impromptus (D935 No 3 and D899 No 4) are also memorably poetic (especially the warmly expressed B flat major from D935), as is Mendelssohn’s Lied ohne Worte, Op 19 No 1. This is vintage Gieseking indeed. Other solo pieces include Scott’s Lotus Land and Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s Cipressi (both new to Gieseking’s discography), Gieseking’s own transcription of Strauss’s Lied Ständchen and some rather careless Ravel (Alborada del gracioso – spoilt by premature applause – doesn’t really pass muster). The concertos here are variable: Grieg under Izler Solomon features vibrant string playing from the Los Angeles PO and thrilling projection from Gieseking, whereas Schumann (Erich Leinsdorf) and Rachmaninov No 2 (Solomon again) find him playing to the gallery, often in a rather haphazard fashion. But the Schubert and Mendelssohn items are precious finds.
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January 2020 ∙ MusicWeb International ∙ Walter Gieseking ∙ At the Hollywood Bowl 1955-56
This twofer catches the pianist in unfamiliar open-air concerts performing romantic concertos and more intimate solo works. Mediating between projection and introspection is never easy in such circumstances and it’s fascinating to listen to the decision-making and compromises inherent in trying to do just that. Add two nuggets never before recorded and you have a release to ponder.
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February 2020 ∙ French Classica ∙ Jean-Charles Hoffelé ∙ Walter Gieseking ∙ At the Hollywood Bowl 1955-56
Un sorcier stupéfiant l’assistance nombreuse du Hollywood Bowl: Walter Gieseking. Il fait surgir Une barque sur l’océan, on la voit, même si le texte de Ravel est emporté dans ce geste de peintre. Gieseking arde dans les concertos. Le Deuxième de Rachmaninov est une folie, en traits fulgurants ; chez Schumann il s’enflamme dans un finale hors d’haleine, alors que celui de Grieg déborde de paysages. Picorez dans les seize pièces brèves, de Scarlatti à Debussy, de Schubert å Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Gieseking fait tonner et chanter son piano.
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February 2020 ∙ French Diapason ∙ Bertrand Boissard ∙ Walter Gieseking ∙ At the Hollywood Bowl 1955-56
Deux mois avant sa mort, Walter Gieseking met le feu au Hollywood Bowl dans le concerto de Grieg et le 2e de Rachmaninov. Ahurissant de vitalité, le soliste prend des risques insensés — au Prix d’un déluge de fausses notes. Quel son large et ample dans Lotus Land de Scott ! Une barque sur l’océan et Ondine de Ravel tombent hélas dans l’hystérie. Une expérience inouïe, à réserver aux aficionados.
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June 2020 ∙ MusicWeb International ∙ Walter Gieseking ∙ At the Hollywood Bowl 1955-56
The legendary pedal technique is utilised to achieve colour and texture, and the effect is almost hypnotic. The outdoor concerts have been well-captured by the NBC engineers, and the piano is bright and clear. Although his recording career was prolific, these historic documents make a valuable addition to an already well-packed discography. It’s always a pleasure to savour the playing of this wonderful pianist.
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