Every man's death diminishes us all, but the death of a man so close to completing his greatest achievement and the summation of his life's work diminishes us all greatly – very, very greatly. When Emil Gilels died in 1985, he had completed recordings of most but not all of Beethoven's piano sonatas, released here in a nine-disc set. What's here is unimaginably good: superlative recordings of 27 of the 32 canonical sonatas, including the "Pathétique," "Moonlight," "Waldstein," "Appassionata," "Les Adieux," and the majestic "Hammerklavier," plus the two early "Electoral" Sonatas and the mighty Eroica Variations. What's missing is unimaginably priceless: five of the canonical sonatas, including the first and – horror vacui – the last. But still, for what there is, we must be grateful. Beyond all argument one of the great pianists of the twentieth century, Gilels the Soviet super virtuoso had slowly mellowed and ripened over his long career, and when he began recording the sonatas in 1972, his interpretations had matured and deepened while his superlative technique remained gloriously intact straight through to the last recordings of his final year.
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!
“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.
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.
This fantastic compilation picks up the First period of his brilliant career as any other compilation never did it. Mercurial and epic pianism at its best. His Brahms - exultant and thundering - exceed his late readings with Jochum (less profound if you may, but much more expansive and less restrained). His reading about Shostakovich Sonata 2 is out of this world.
The history of the Russian chamber ensemble of the middle of the 20th century, in all possibility, did not know a more intricate yet remarkable brilliant group of musicians than the celebrated trio of Emil Gilels. Leonid Kogan and Mstislav Rostropovich. All to different in their essence were these three artistic individualities – these three virtuosos, spoilt children of fortune, who were brought together at various stages of disclosure of their outstanding talents. At that, there was not a great difference between their respective ages – Gilels was born in 1916, Kogan was born in 1924 and Rostropovich was born in 1927. Nonetheless, whereas Gilels was already able to reconsider and revise in many ways his principles of work, departing further and further from a pure demonstration of capabilities of his breathtaking technique, Rostropovich and Kogan were still passing through their lengthy period of thrill over their virtuosic powers, affecting their audiences in a straightforward manner.
This is the most beautiful of Mozart playing, his last piano concerto given here by Emil Gilels with total clarity. This is a classic performance, memorably accompanied by the VPO and Böhm. Suffice it to say that Gilels sees everything and exaggerates nothing, that the performance has an Olympian authority and serenity, and that the Larghetto is one of the glories of the gramophone. He's joined by his daughter Elena in the Double Piano Concerto in E flat, and their physical relationship is mirrored in the quality, and the mutual understanding of the playing: both works receive marvellous interpretations. We think Emil plays first, Elena second, but could be quite wrong. The VPO under Karl Böhm is at its best; and so is the quality of recording, with a good stereo separation of the two solo parts, highly desirable in this work.
This release features a previously-unreleased recording of pianist Emil Gilels, captured live in an acclaimed 1964 Seattle recital. With the exception of a single work, this recital has never before been made available to the general public and is now being released for the first time. Released in time to celebrate the pianist’s 100th anniversary, the recital includes works by Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy, Prokofiev, Stravinsky and more.
Emil Gilels was one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century. Three decades after his death, many of his recordings still represent the benchmark to which all others are compared.
In celebration of the 100th anniversary of his birth in 2016 Deutsche Grammophon brings together for the first time all of its Gilels recordings in a 24CD box-set with original covers, including seven discs of rare Russian recordings that he made at the beginning of his career.