One of the most grown-up review sites around

2021
55,028 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here

     
  
 

 

International mailing


 
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

 

paid for
advertisements



TROUBADISC

100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas


FOGHORN Classics


Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets


New Releases

Naxos Classical


Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10

 


Obtain 10% discount

 


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Postmaster
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

 

Discs for review may be sent to:
Jonathan Woolf
76 Lushes Road
Loughton
Essex IG10 3QB
United Kingdom
Ph. 020 8418 0616
jonathan_woolf@yahoo.co.uk


 

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers


Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and keep us afloat

 

 

Recordings of the Month

March


piano music Vol 4


Charpentier


Songs of Love and Sorrow


Thomas Agerfeldt OLESEN
Cello Concerto


The female in Music

 

February

January


Linda BUCKLEY
From Ocean’s Floor

 


Support us financially by purchasing this from
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Prelude in B minor, BWV855 transcribed by Alexander Siloti [2:57]
Concerto for two keyboards in C major, BWV1061 [17:40]
Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D major, BWV825 [20:24]
Partita No.1 in B flat major, BWV825 [16:55]
Prelude and Fugue for organ in D major, BWV532 transcribed by Ferrucio Busoni [13:07]
Emil Gilels (piano)
Yakov Zak (piano)
Elizaveta Gilels (violin): Nikolai Kharkovsky (flute)
USSR State Symphony Orchestra/Kirill Kondrashin
rec. 1948 (Prelude, Concerto, Brandenburg Concerto), 1950 (Partita) and live, 1968 (Prelude and Fugue), Moscow
MELODIYA MELCD1002224 [71:35]

Emil Gilels’s Bach discography is certainly not vast, but its selectivity was based on an astute understanding of Bachian principles. He did play two of the keyboard concertos, the Fifth Brandenburg Concerto, a selection from the Well-Tempered Clavier, the fifth French Suite, the first Partita, the Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue and a few other pieces. But it is true that he was no Samuil Feinberg in terms of a broader and more spiritual commitment to Bach’s music. Instead he sought those works to which he was most particularly drawn and those Preludes and Fugues from the WTC which spoke most clearly to him. He didn’t feel an obligation to perform the whole thing.

What we have is a valuable cache of his Bach performances, almost all studio recordings. It is volume 2 in Melodiya’s Gilels-Bach series. There are two transcriptions, one the familiar Siloti transcription of the Prelude BWV855 and the other Busoni’s leonine arrangement of the Prelude and Fugue for organ BWV532. This latter, recorded in 1968, with applause retained, is the only live performance and much the latest in date. Powerful, with rich organ sonorities evoked, it contains a smattering of wrong notes but plenty of virtuosic spirit. Everything else derives from studio sessions in 1948 and 1950. The Concerto in C major for two keyboards brings Gilels to the fore with Yakov Zak. They formed an enviable two-piano team around this time, and many of the major statements have been reissued by APR in recent years. Their rapport is undoubted in this performance, marshalled by Kondrashin, who provides some very purposeful tuttis in the finale. He is also on hand to direct the Brandenburg Concerto where Gilels is joined by his sister Elizaveta and flautist Nicolai Kharkovski. Fortunately this isn’t an especially stodgy recording, the violinist and flautist making a good tonal match – Elizaveta has rather a thin tone - and there is a full quotient of expressive exchange in the slow movement. The only demerit really is the way in which the soloists obscure orchestral themes in the finale, as they are too forwardly balanced. All these recordings are, apparently, making their first ever re-appearance on disc using the original masters. Andromeda, for instance, reissued this Brandenburg concerto in a 3-CD box devoted to the pianist. I reviewed it here, and it was horribly dull and airless, this Melodiya being effortlessly superior as a transfer. As a result one can afford to be a little lenient to Melodiya, which claims ‘first time on CD status’ for all material.

The Partita No.1 in B flat major (Moscow, 1950) is also known from a live performance from the Great Hall of Moscow Conservatoire the same year, also in the Andromeda box. Whilst there he jettisoned repeats, he did no such thing in his commercial recording and it’s all the better for it.

The booklet notes quote pertinently from Gilels’ interview with Lev Barenboim, whose book Emil Gilels – A Creative Portrait is the acknowledged source.

Jonathan Woolf