Emil Gilels

Haydn, Beethoven, Schumann, Fauré: Piano Trios, Piano Quartets

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As a follow-up to a 2007 release of recordings featuring Mstislav Rostropovich first issued by Westminster in the '50s, Deutsche Grammophon here offers a two-disc set of the Russian cellist performing as part of a trio with pianist Emil Gilels and violinist Leonid Kogan, also recorded for Westminster. Though still young artists at the time these recordings were made, the players all sound distinctly like themselves. Rostropovich's singing tone, Kogan's focused intensity, and Gilels'muscular virtuosity are plain right from the start of the opening Allegro moderato of Beethoven's "Archduke" Trio. But because they're young and because they're playing together as an ensemble, these qualities are less pronounced than they would become in their later solo careers. Their individual virtuosity is evident in the incandescent closing of Schumann's D minor Trio, but it's tempered by their collective virtuosity in the way they bend and weave their way together through Schumann's finale. Joined like this, the three players bring out the best in each other and for fans of the musicians, these performances will be well worth hearing.

Also included here is a performance of Fauré's First Piano Quartet with Gilels, Kogan, and Rostropovich plus violist Rudolf Barshai. Partially because of the work's more passionate nature and partially because of the addition of the warm-toned Barshai, this performance is more overtly emotional than the others, with an Adagio whose yearning would melt the sternest listener. Remastered from recordings made between 1950 and 1958, the sound here is clear but thin and rough, but honest.

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