This Icon Box, which is excellent value for money [at lest in the UK - in the USA it may be more expensive] claims to contain all the recordings the great Russian pianist made for EMI. That seems not quite true, as he recorded Schumann's Nachtstucke for EMI in London in the late 60s, and they are missing for the set; probably because the rights belong to the Russian label, Melodya.
All items were recorded between 1954 and 1972; in Paris, London, Cleveland and New York.
The repertoire here is somewhat limited, insofar as we have two complete cycles of the Beethoven concertos - the earlier made in Europe with different conductors between 1954 [No.3 in mono] and 1957 [4&5 in stereo]; and the latter in Cleveland with Szell in 1968. [Frankly, I greatly prefer Szell's earlier set with Leon Fleischer.] In addition there are three short sets of Beethoven variations, but no sonatas. There are the three Tchaikovsky concertos from 1972, and earlier [mono] versions of Rachmaninoff 3 and Saint-Saens 2. Solo works include a Mozart sonata, K570; Chopin's Funeral March sonata, and three of the Shostakovich Preludes and Fugues Op. 87 [1,5&24]. There is much to admire here: for me, the highlights are the earlier Beethoven 4, with Leopold Ludwig, the Saint-Saens, and the Shostakovich - truly stunning playing.
But this set leaves out [because recorded for other companies] many of the works for which Gilels is best known. There is no Scarlatti, Bach, Schubert, Schumann, Grieg, Brahms or Liszt here; no chamber music, no Beethoven sonatas. For those one must go to his later recordings for DGG, and the small but excellent CBS and RCA legacy. Gilels also left many live performances; from London, Moscow, Salzburg, Italy and elsewhere: and though these sometimes reveal a pianist who is not note-perfect, they often give a better, and more immediate picture of the great Lion of the Keyboard who will be familiar to those who heard him in the flesh.
So while it is good to have [almost] all his EMI tapings gathered together in a single bargain box, those interested in the pianist's wider repertoire will need to look elsewhere for works with which he is most closely associated; in particular the Brahms concertos and late solo works, the Beethoven sonatas, and his Schubert and Liszt sonatas and shorter works, including his incomparabe Grieg Lyric Pieces.
But this set is not to be missed at the price [around $20 from some sellers], notwithstanding the Beethoven concerto duplications.