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Len Mullenger:

Gilels  The Giant Mozart Fantasia in D minor K397, Piano Sonata in A minor K310; Beethoven Piano Sonata No.8 in C minor op.13 'Pathetique'. Piano Sonata No.14 in C sharp minor op.27/2 'Moonlight'. 32 Variations on an original theme in C minor Wo080 ; Scriabin Piano Sonata No.3 in F sharp minor op.23 ; Beethoven 32 Variations; Schubert Moments musicaux D780 op.94 ; Schumann Arabesque in C op.18; Liszt Rhapsodie espagnole; Ravel Pavane & Jeux d'eau etc.
BMG 74321 75523 2 154' 26" 2CD around £13
Crotchet  Amazon UK  Amazon USA

The appeal of this double-CD reissue compilation will be the revered Russian pianist, Emil Gilels, but the programme itself comprises a substantial musical meal. They are all live concert performances, which is all to the good if you are not easily bothered by variable sound quality and audience contributions, by cough as well as applause.

The recordings date from1965 (Schubert) to1984 (Scriabin). Those two are amongst the best for sound, and the Schubert is astonishing for its phrasing and articulation, one of the most involving and satisfying readings of a set of pieces which can, under less sensitive hands, have its longeurs. The Scriabin too can be heavy and sound repetitive, especially in the working out of its initial theme, but this is one of the most convincing interpretations I remember, and I found it gripping. Gilel's Mozart is a little dry and pedantic, his Beethoven sound - the 32 Variations especially exciting. The Schumann arabesque is a delight, but the Liszt, which I had heard him give at the RFH shortly before his untimely death, a real tour de force, unexpectedly disappointed me. Perhaps this just is music that demands to be heard live, when electricity can be generated from platform to listeners. The Ravel Pavane is a good demonstration of the refinement of tone colour which only a great pianist can bring to simple pieces.

The recordings are mostly quite adequate, some better than that, and I have no hesitation in recommending it; all collectors should have examples of Gilels' supreme artistry in their collections, and this is a good selection of music in his solo repertoire.


Peter Grahame Woolf


Peter Grahame Woolf

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