This album includes rare broadcasts made by Walter Gieseking from 1947 to 1952, of works he did not record commercially - de Falla's `Nights in the Gardens of Spain', Hindemith's `Four temperaments' (CD 1). It also includes a broadcast of Chopin's 3rd Ballade made 14 Nov, 1947(CD 2, track 7) and two works central for Gieseking's programs - Beethoven's Appassionata (CD 2, tracks 1-3) and Schumann's Fantasy in C (CD 2, tracks 1-3).
Gieseking had broad musical interests and easily memorized new works. Gieseking's trumps - gorgeous touch and rhythmic flexibility - are especially evident in XXth century music.
The best recording in the compilation is De Falla's `Nights in the Gardens of Spain' (CD 1, tracks 1-3), with Kurt Schroeder conducting RSO Frankfurt (the same orchestra is also called in German Sinfonie-Orchester des Hessichen Rundfunks). Gieseking shines in this impressionistic score. The conductor is OK and the sound is acceptable.
As for the Hindemith's variations (broadcast from 8th October 1952), the solo part seldom gets such a splendid performance, but the overall impression is spoiled by less than perfect conducting of Winfried Zillig and by disastrous acoustics - no kudos to Hessisch Rundfunk. If you in these conditions can enjoy Hindemith's masterpiece, this album is for you. The variations entitled `Melancholish', `Sanguinish', `Phlegmatisch', `Cholerish' illustrate four temperaments. I would rather say that Gieseking was a phlegmatic, to judge on his recorded legacy. This is occasionally felt in the first movement of Schumann's Fantasy (CD 2, track 4) but all four Hindemith's `temperaments' - and the introductory theme (CD 1, track 4), are played with brio.
CD 2 contains Gieseking's second recording of Beethoven's «Appassionata» (broadcast from 17th April 1947). I think this version is a bit fussy and inaccurate. The good things are that Gieseking's playing lacks pomposity and the sonata sounds fresh. The tempo taken in the Finale is way too fast, with no good results for the coda.
Schumann's Fantasy in C, broadcast 30th October, 1947 (CD 2, tracks 4-6) gets a much better performance: the third movement is especially successful. According to Gieseking's discography [...] , this is Gieseking's 2nd recorded version of the Fantasy. An earlier version (broadcast from 1945) popped up on a Melodia LP (and likely on ANDRCD 9009 though I am not quite sure). A later 1955 version is available on Tahra TAH 409-412 B00005JHGI. All three versions are worth hearing. The Fantasy, of course, favors other approaches as well, cf. great recordings made by Backhaus (1937) Piano Masters: Wilhelm Backhaus and Moiseiwitsch (1953) Benno Moiseiwitsch Plays Schumann & Brahms.
Chopin's 3rd Ballad in A flat (CD 2, track 7) gets a delicate and lyrical reading. Towards the end there are fingerslips.
Recommended: for pianophiles. Best tracks: CD 1, tracks 1-3 (Falla) and CD 2, track 6 (Schumann's Fantasy, movt III).