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Thread: Emil Gilels

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    Senior Member flamencosketches's Avatar
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    Default Emil Gilels

    I like what I heard of this man's playing a lot, but I haven't heard much. Beethoven sonatas and a couple of the concertos mostly. I'd like to check out some more. What are some other highlights of his recorded discography? What composers do you feel that he excels in? I am kind of hard to please with Beethoven's piano works but he does a great job with a lot of it. Just curious to hear what everyone has to say.

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    Unique, "golden" tone; intense and authoritative readings of the Viennese classics, 19th century romantics and 20th century music (esp the Russians but not only); a legato to die for; the ever impeccable taste etc and so on. One of the towering pianists of the past century without a shade of a doubt. His timeless selection of Grieg's Lyric Pieces on DG is a good place to start.












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    Senior Member flamencosketches's Avatar
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    Thank you sir. I'm not familiar with any of Grieg's piano works so that sounds like a great place to start indeed. I just listened to a bit of the Chopin concerto and his playing on there is indeed beautiful. Going to check out the rest after work. I am indeed thoroughly impressed with what I've heard of his playing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by flamencosketches View Post
    I like what I heard of this man's playing a lot, but I haven't heard much. Beethoven sonatas and a couple of the concertos mostly. I'd like to check out some more. What are some other highlights of his recorded discography? What composers do you feel that he excels in? I am kind of hard to please with Beethoven's piano works but he does a great job with a lot of it. Just curious to hear what everyone has to say.
    Great pianist!! one of my very favorites...his Beethoven is really excellent...TMK - he had a very large repertoire, at which he excelled - Mozart, Schubert, Scriabin, Liszt....I don't have a huge collection of his work, more like samples of a wide range of music...the guy definitely had chops - he can generate tremendous power, sonority....
    also- check out his concerto performances -

    Tchaikovsky Concerto #1 - Reiner/CSO --this is a real rouser...
    Brahms Concerto #2 - Reiner/CSO

    Reiner/Gilels seemed to be a very excellent match

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    Senior Member flamencosketches's Avatar
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    Definitely been enjoying those Grieg Lyric Pieces!

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    Emil Gilels has long been one of my favorite pianists. He excelled in virtually everything he played, & as Heck148 has pointed out, Gilels had a huge repertory. Here are some of the 'desert island' Gilels recordings that I've most treasured over the decades:

    --Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 4, with conductor Leopold Ludwig: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_bql1jrNm_g
    https://www.amazon.com/Piano-Concert...s=music&sr=1-9
    --Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 21, Op. 53 "Waldstein", DG--this is one of the finest Waldstein Sonatas on record, IMO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mb8HFK9Qv7M
    Here it is remastered in excellent Ambient Surround Sound Imaging (AMSI): https://www.amazon.com/Gilels-Klavie...r=1-1-fkmrnull
    And the original DG CD release: https://www.amazon.com/Beethoven-Son...6BN384HFBFJ47N
    --Beethoven Piano Sonata Nos. 7, 25, 26 "Les Adieux", & Eroica Variations, live 1980 recordings, Hänssler label: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVPR...ye7ByvFbiJG4vY
    --Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 27, Op. 90 (1974 DG): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARoXC9ITIco
    --Beethoven--Piano Sonatas Nos. 30 & 31, DG--Gilels' final DG recording before his untimely death:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnA68jnSaSQ
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7hiNR4wxUs
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...dm_ws_sp_ps_dp
    https://www.amazon.com/Beethoven-Kla...sr=1-2-catcorr
    https://www.amazon.com/Beethoven-Pat...=music&sr=1-22
    --Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 29 in B flat major, Op. 106--a January 26, 1984 live recording at the Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatory--if memory serves, this was Gilels' final concert (& it's better than his studio Hammerklavier DG recording, IMO--as Gilels was often better live in concert, rather than in the studio): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjwph_NG89E

    --Schubert Moments Musicaux (this is one of Gilels' most essential recordings):
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UqWTCWQm77E
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0HKTL8d25CE
    --Schubert Fantasy in F Minor, four hands, D. 940 (with his daughter Elena):
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMM8NxvoG3M
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRfbBShnMqI

    --All of Gilels' DG Mozart recordings: Mozart Piano Concerto No. 27, KV 595, etc.:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qjom...GtBpxBA_UDaHTM
    https://www.amazon.com/Piano-Concert...s=music&sr=1-1
    https://www.amazon.com/Mozart-Record...s=music&sr=1-5

    --Bach French Suite No. 5 in G Major, BWV 816 for RCA (if only Gilels had recorded more Bach, which clearly, judging from this recording, he was exceptional at): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m8k4...6HLgk&index=22

    --Prokofiev Piano Sonata No. 8:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wfv9fnOU31s
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7xxf_DGkBw

    --Prokofiev Piano Sonata No. 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K7SS8T5bXZs

    --Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2 (Fritz Reiner, CSO): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWh6...rdh5nH8Zq6HLgk
    --Brahms Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2 (Eugen Jochum, BPO):
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fu4-Enucukk
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rciqr6GNmkA

    --Gilels' famed 1969 Carnegie Hall recital:



    --Live at the Prague Spring Festival 1973:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8b9dpmb9JY
    My old LP: https://www.amazon.com/Wolfgang-Amad...c&sr=1-2-fkmr0
    https://www.amazon.com/Emil-Gilels-P...c&sr=1-1-fkmr0

    Gilels was also active as a chamber musician, performing in a piano trio with violinist Leonid Kogan and cellist Mstislav Rostropovich:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JCCf...RK1LNAHl00ecuE, and in a violin-piano duo with Kogan, as well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pIKDbzFW8v8, and with the Amadeus String Quartet in chamber works by Brahms & Schubert: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPAqgfXOtvg, and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AtlyQ5rthwY. But be warned that the sound quality can be variable on the mono piano trio & violin sonata recordings: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yksmXKRs38g.

    My two cents.
    Last edited by Josquin13; Mar-02-2019 at 20:58.

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    The two Brilliant Classics box sets, one of them concentrating on Beethoven, including the 5 concertos, one with a mixed programme of Liszt, Schumann, Weber, Medtner, Prokofiev, Scriabin etc., are very fine and show the variety in his playing, including a good deal of live recordings. Sound quality is varying too, though. They'd be my first choice, I think.
    Last edited by joen_cph; Mar-02-2019 at 23:18.

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    Quote Originally Posted by flamencosketches View Post
    I like what I heard of this man's playing a lot, but I haven't heard much. Beethoven sonatas and a couple of the concertos mostly. I'd like to check out some more. What are some other highlights of his recorded discography? What composers do you feel that he excels in? I am kind of hard to please with Beethoven's piano works but he does a great job with a lot of it. Just curious to hear what everyone has to say.
    For me, he was the first keyboard player who showed me that you can be expressive without effusion, with control, this really influenced me, my taste. I appreciate the tough tone, the complete absence of sentimentality. And I also appreciate the tempos and phrasing, especially the later recordings. I like what he does very much.

    Big pieces of music I remember liking :

    Brahms Paganini Variations
    Schumann Symphonic Etudes
    Beethoven C minor variations and op 26 - the late Beethoven he recorded for DG is worth exploring.
    Schumann Nachtstucke
    Mozart sonatas (on Testament maybe) and the K 595 on Vista Vera
    Chopin Sonata 3 live
    Ravel valses nobles et sentimentales
    Hammerklavier live preferably
    Beethoven violin sonatas with Kagan
    Schubert Moments Musicaux (maybe impromptus too) and Sonata on Orfeo
    Liszt sonata live
    Haydn C minor sonata and trio
    Beethoven PC 4 (one of them is good, maybe with Szell, I can't remember)

    There are some good odd little things too, Rachmaninov preludes, Shostakovich, Mozart/Busoni and Bach/Siloti and others. I'd have to think harder.

    You may have to be careful with recordings, he changes his approach a lot over time. If you want me to make some recordings suggestions let me know. You could do much worse than by getting his Philips "Great Pianists" recordings, they were put together by someone who was a friend of Gilels' and he took some care to find really fine recordings which give a snapshot of his art.
    Last edited by Mandryka; Mar-03-2019 at 10:08.

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    Senior Member NLAdriaan's Avatar
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    Gilels was from the same Russian generation as Richter and Richter became the superstar.

    To me, Gilels is my main Beethoven-sonata-hero. I recommend his Hammerklavier on DG, ideal combination of authority.

    While you're at it, His Brahms concerto 2 with Jochum is considered to be one of the best Brahms 2 recordings out there:

    4474462.jpg

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    Great pianist. Don't think any point in comparing him and Richter as two very different pianists. When Gilels first came to the West he was amazed when he visited someone's house that only one family lived in it. In the communist paradise of the USSR, all one of their greatest artists had to live in was a small apartment!

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    Senior Member flamencosketches's Avatar
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    Re: Richter, I was definitely far more impressed at first listening with Gilels than Richter. Both clearly among the greats, but Gilels' style appeals to me more.

    @Josquin, thank you (again; if I'm not mistaken, it was you who provided similar in my thread on Richter last month) for your great compilation of great performances. One of these days, I will have to ask you to provide a similar list of recommendations on Josquin himself as for your recommendations themselves, the first Gilels I ever heard was his Waldstein, Les Adieux, and Appassionata CD on DG. I like it, and he impresses me in Beethoven to some degree, but to me at this point in life Schnabel outshines virtually all other Beethoven players to the point that others in my library get severely neglected. That being said, Gilels along with Kempff round out my top 3 in the Beethoven sonatas. I have also recently listened to his 4th and 5th piano concertos with Leopold Ludwig (as a side note, according to the late conductor's German Wikipedia page, Ludwig was appointed Kapellmeister by Adolf Hitler himself ) and they are good stuff. I've also heard his 5th with Szell and enjoyed it. Finally, I listened to all of his Moments Musicaux yesterday (it was the Youtube video you'd linked), great stuff! If there is any point at all in comparing, I definitely prefer his Schubert to Richter's which I still find too slow (though the latter does play a killer Wanderer Fantasy; hearing him play the late sonatas is just painful).

    Beyond all that, you've given me a lot to explore. Thanks again.

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    "Beyond all that, you've given me a lot to explore. Thanks again."

    It was my pleasure.

    Inspired by this thread, over the past couple of days I finally listened to a recent 5 CD box set of Emil Gilels' 'unreleased' live 1970s recitals from the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. In my opinion, it's an essential purchase for Gilels' fans. For me, I expect this will become a desert island box set. Interestingly, Gilels played much of his best repertory in Amsterdam in the 1970s, and though there are alternative Gilels recordings of virtually every work in this set, it was a great pleasure to hear all of this music in such superb sound (which of course is never the case with the old Soviet recordings). Once again, I found Gilels piano playing to be more creative, daring and imaginative live in concert, rather than in the studio, which is yet another reason to hear these concerts, as they represent Gilels pianism at it's very finest, in my opinion.

    The unfortunate news is that the set has gone up in price since it was first released. I wonder if it could already be out of print, so soon?

    I'd say that if you can find the set at an affordable price, grab it. Since once it becomes even more scarce, the price will likely sky rocket...

    https://open.spotify.com/album/4v1PDFzarYeGrQxWxSEZV8
    https://www.prestomusic.com/classica...-concertgebouw
    https://www.amazon.com/Unreleased-Re...c&sr=1-1-fkmr1

    IMO, the Concertgebouw recitals are preferable to the 2016 DG release of a Gilels concert in Seattle, which I was actually slightly disappointed with, sound-wise: https://www.amazon.com/Seattle-Recit...SIN=B01KD2512G
    Last edited by Josquin13; Mar-07-2019 at 01:53.

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