Emil Gilels

Gilels Plays Beethoven & Weber

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This 1968 live recording of Soviet pianist Emil Gilels includes both familiar and unfamiliar repertoire. Among the familiar works are Beethoven's Waldstein Sonata and C minor Variations, and Gilels delivers standout readings of both. His Waldstein is rapturously exciting in its fast outer movements and deeply introspective in its slow central movement (which is actually an extended introduction to the finale), while his playing of the C minor Variations is relentlessly dramatic and unrelievedly intense. The less familiar works include Beethoven's Variations (12) on the Russian Dance from Paul Wranitzky's ballet Das Wäldmädchen, and Carl Maria von Weber's Piano Sonata in A flat major, and Gilels again turns in first-rank accounts. His performance of the Variations is lightly amusing and always appealing, and his A flat Sonata is lovingly lyrical and wonderfully fresh. In every work, Gilels demonstrates his superlative technique, agile dexterity, and finely calibrated tone. There are some missed notes, but these are live performances, where a few flaws aren't uncommon even in stupendous performances. BBC Music's monaural sound is strongly present, but dry and a bit gray.

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