This revered Russian pianist was famous for probing the poetry of the pieces he played even as he exhibited breathtaking virtuosity. This set collects his highly prized interpretations of masterpieces from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries: more than 5 CDs of Beethoven plus Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor ; Saint-Sa+«ns' Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Minor ; Tchaikovsky's Piano Concert No. 1 in B Flat Minor ; Chopin's Piano Sonata No. 2 in B Flat Minor ; Shostakovich's 24 Preludes and Fugues, and more!
This disc will benefit from a strong curiosity factor, for the Goldberg who composed the music here is indeed the one for whom J.S. Bach is said to have composed his monumental Goldberg Variations for harpsichord, BWV 988. The story goes that the Russian ambassador to the Dresden court, one Count von Keyserlingk, had insomnia and wanted a long, gentle work that could be played by his house keyboardist, the then teenaged Goldberg, in the next room.
This authorized BBC tape has never been issued before. The recital is slightly unusual in that Gilels opens with Schumann's rarely heard Four Klavierstuckeop.32. Gilels only performed these pieces late in his career from 1977 to 1984. This is an exceptionally rare CD and presents the Russian pianist at his best in a relaxed, informal atmosphere. There is a beautifully played encore - Mozart's D minor Fantasy K397 - which is also featured on this well-filled 80+minute disc.
“Emil Gilels stands out as giant among giants,” wrote Gramophone when the Odessa-born pianist died in 1985. “In terms of virtuosity he was second to none, yet his leonine power was tempered by a delicacy and poetry that few have matched and none has surpassed.” Beethoven was at the heart of Gilels’ repertoire and in 1968 he recorded this complete cycle of the composer’s piano concerto with the Cleveland Orchestra and its long-standing maestro, another musical titan of the era, George Szell.