Customer Review

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Peerless playing: these are "desert island" discs, 25 July 2007
This review is from: Beethoven: Piano Sonatas / Eroica Variations / Elector Sonata (Audio CD)
There are some recordings, very few in number, that seem completely "right". Gilels' Beethoven for me falls very definitely into that category. While his performances do not in any way lack character, he has that rare ability to make you feel as though the music cannot be played any other way. Moreover, despite his colossal virtuosity, he puts his gifts entirely at the service of the composer rather than indulging in personal idiosyncracy. The result are performances of this great music that stand the test of repeated audition and which grow in stature the better one gets to know them. The "Hammerklavier" is an awesome performance, as good as anything you are ever likely to hear. His "Waldstein" has tremendous control and tension, his "Les Adieux" has grace as well as poetry. His "Appassionata" is the finest performance I have ever heard, from any pianist, with the playing transcending superlatives: the highly-charged coda to the final movement is fearsome in its momentum and yet seems totally right in the context of what has gone before. Some of the "lesser" works are accorded performances that bring their own greatness of utterance into high relief in a way that other pianists fail to achieve. No matter that Gilels died without quite completing this set - what he did commit to disc is truly treasurable. The recordings themselves vary somewhat in quality: most are very good indeed, though some are a little close-up for comfort. Certainly this set would be one of my "desert island" selections.
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