|The orchestra of the Janowska Camp in Lvov, Poland in 1943|
"During the worst periods of despotism and tyranny, people could learn musical scores by heart. Even where music was forbidden, they could still commit it to memory. Music is very difficult to censor. Yes, it can by stopped. It can be suppressed. Musicians can be hunted and hounded and tortured. But still, it is there. And, always, its strange mystery remains. [ ] to remember the last concerts of that very ambiguous genius, Furtwängler. The lights went out regularly. And we have recordings where you hear the gunfire of the Russian artillery approaching Berlin. In Furtwängler's Beethoven and one Haydn recording at that time played in the dark, the people in the audience knowing they were doomed, knowing they are doomed - and to a horrible fate. And there are no greater recordings or readings of that music known to me than those. There is something in the music which is much stronger even than our greatest performers. The music, in a sense, plays us. We are played by it."
From ARSC: Sound Recording Reviews (pdf):
"Walter Gieseking was acutely aware of every sound his fingers and pedaling produced; he was a perfectionist of the highest order. The New Grove Dictionary accuses him of setting standards that have proved impossible to surpass in his definitive Debussy and Ravel series. His Beethoven concertos were just as notable. In this performance Arthur Rother expertly guides the Berlin Radio Orchestra. The dignified tone set by the first powerful E-Flat chord remains throughout the rest of the concerto. The epithet “Emperor" is well deserved.
Tom Nulls liner notes point out that Napoleon’s conquest of Austria culminated while Beethoven composed this piece. As the artillery neared Beethoven covered his damaged ears with pillows while he took refuge in his brother’s cellar. Once the city had fallen though he stormed and ranted at Napoleon, and finished this concerto.
How ironic and appropriate that booming anti-aircraft guns in the waning days of World War ll are perceptible in the background of this performance. Near the end of the first movemetns cadenza a faint “ta-toom... ka-thoom... brrrooom” faintly, yet distinctly sounds at a great distance, like some ghost timpani. Gieseking’s piano playing rolls right along, gently erasing all remembrance of the storms and stresses of war."
"In the cadenza and some quiet passages you can hear the artillery from outside the RRG-building (2´30"+, 5´40"+). For me this is just unbelievable, a historical document and an impressive testimonial against war.
Historic Stereo-Recording from 1944 with Walter Gieseking as soloist and Arthur Rother and the Großes Berliner Rundfunkorchester. 2009 we can celebrate the 65th anniversary of stereophonic tape recordings. So I thought it might be interesting to upload a few recordings that Mr. Helmut Krüger made at the RRG in Berlin in the early 40´s with the AEG-Telefunken K7 stereo tape recoder (Krüger was nicknamed by his radio colleagues Krüger-Krüger, in witty reference to his habit to record everything in stereo).
After the soviets brought the complete RGG-archive to Moscow in 1945 unfortunately from the hundreds of Stereo recordings only a handful found their way back to Berlin. And in a very bad condition.
The over 60 years old tape was transfered directly to digital equipment without any processing."
From Public Address: Nightingales/Bombs/Beethoven:
"Beethoven’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No 5 had been recorded by RRG in Berlin, as part of the on-going stereo experiments at the very end of 1944. Featuring the great German pianist Walter Gieseking, and the Großes Berliner Rundfunkorchester under Arthur Rother, the stereo taping had also unintentionally caught the sounds of the anti-aircraft batteries outside the RRG building during an allied air-raid. In the quiet passages of the Allegro movement, (2´30"+, 5´40"+ in the clip), the thumps of the anti-aircraft fire are clearly discernible.
The combination of Beethoven and artillery in a stereo recording from the heart of the German Reich in the last days of the war is another profound historic and audio experience. Under fire, Gieseking and the Großes Berliner Rundfunkorchester prove themselves every bit as good as the well-regarded Berlin Philharmonic. The sound-engineering is crisp, even through the medium of Youtube. The bang of anti-aircraft batteries is an unrhythmic atmosphere. The counterpointing of human impulses, destruction and creation, is almost unique [sic]."
From Behold Media:
"Recording of Nightingale birdsong from a garden in Surrey, England on May 19th 1942 as 197 Wellington and Lancaster bombers fly overhead on a bombing raid to Germany."