Amazing – one of the first experimental stereo recordings from 1944
Many thanks to a friend for providing this rare, historical document. Not my rip.
# Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven
# Performer: Walter Gieseking
# Orchestra: Berlin Reichsender Orchestra
# Conductor: Artur Rother
# Vinyl (1944/1978)
# Number of Discs: 1
# Format: FLAC (Tracks)
# Label: Varese Sarabande
# DR-Analysis: DR 14
# ASIN: not found
# Size: 753 MB
# Scan: yes
# Server: FileFactory
Gieseking, at the height of his powers in 1944, is deft, delicate, infinitely resourceful. From the moment of the piano’s re-entry, Gieseking points our attention away from heroic postures (though he has strengths in reserve) towards that visionary mood which underwrites the whole of the Violin Concerto and subtly pervades the Emperor, too.
The recording was made at a concert in Berlin and claims to be a genuine stereo recording, a precocious example of the highly sophisticated Berlin Radio system and its Magnetophon recorders. Clearly it is a stereo recording in the same way that an 1840s Fox Talbot is a photograph, but the stereo images are vague and the level of background hiss is almost unacceptably high. That said, the beautifully natural, slightly recessed concert hall image serves Gieseking well; and the orchestra, which is immaculately conducted by Arthur Rother, is finely focused. In the latter part of the first movement cadenza artillery can be heard dimly popping and pummelling in the background, much as it probably did at the time of the work’s première in war-torn Vienna. Gieseking, ever the poet and professional, remains perfectly poised, whilst the horns sweep calmly and steadily in. R.O., Gramophone, January 1980
The 1944 recording of Walter Gieseking playing brilliantly Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto sits among a select few stereo recordings made experimentally prior to the 1950s, the earliest dating back to the early 1930s. It’s one of the only complete works recorded in stereo prior to the general adoption of stereo recording in the 1950s – only one other stereo recording (of a single movement) is known to survive from 1944, also recorded in Germany. It was the development of tape recording which made stereo technically feasible – not until 1958 would disc replay catch up – and the Germans were a considerable way ahead on tape technology by 1944. Even so, the high levels of hiss on this recording – unsurprising given that each channel has half the tape width and thus double the noise levels – shows much was left to be done. Andrew Rose, Pristine Classical.
That it’s a very early stereo recording and that you can hear bombs dropping and anti-aircraft fire faintly several times during the first movement also adds that extra frisson!
Recording made in Autumn 1944, Studio 1, RRG (Reichs-Rundfunk-Gesellschaft) Berlin by Helmut Krüger with the AEG-Telefunken K7 stereo tape recorder (Krüger was nicknamed by his radio colleagues Krüger-Krüger, in witty reference to his habit of recording everything with at least two microphones in stereo).
Several stereo recordings were made by RRG at this time but, with the exception of this and a recording of the last movement of Bruckner’s Symphony no. 8, by Herbert von Karajan conducting the Berlin Staatsoper Orchestra, it is thought they were all destroyed by Allied bombing.
Analyzed folder: /Beethoven ‘Emperor’ Concerto – Giesking, Berlin Reichsender Orch. (1944 stereo) [24-96] 1978 US LP
DR Peak RMS Filename
DR13 -1.05 dB -20.66 dB 01 – (i) Allegro.wav
DR15 -1.25 dB -21.25 dB 02 – (ii) Adagio un poco mosso (iii) Rondo Allegro.wav
Number of files: 2
Official DR value: DR14
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