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Emil Gilels plays Concertos and Sonatas Box set

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (1 Oct. 2012)
  • SPARS Code: ADD
  • Number of Discs: 4
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: Sony Music Classical
  • ASIN: B008CG1HRO
  • Other Editions: Audio CD
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 238,065 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. I. Allegro non troppo e molto maestoso - Chicago Symphony Orchestra
  2. II. Andantino simplice - Chicago Symphony Orchestra
  3. III. Allegro con fuoco - Chicago Symphony Orchestra
  4. I. Allegro maestoso - The Philadelphia Orchestra
  5. II. Romance. Larghetto - The Philadelphia Orchestra
  6. III. Rondo. Vivace - The Philadelphia Orchestra

Disc: 2

  1. I. Allegro non troppo e molto maestoso - New York Philharmonic
  2. II. Andantino semplice - New York Philharmonic
  3. III. Allegro con fuoco - Allegro vivo - New York Philharmonic
  4. I. Allegro non troppo - Chicago Symphony Orchestra
  5. II. Allegro appassionato - Chicago Symphony Orchestra
  6. III. Andante - Chicago Symphony Orchestra
  7. IV. Allegretto grazioso - Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Disc: 3

  1. Piano Sonata in D, D. 850/Op. 53
  2. Allemande
  3. Courante
  4. Sarabande
  5. Gavotte
  6. Bourrée
  7. Loure
  8. Gigue
  9. Prelude No. 10, BWV 855, In B Minor

Disc: 4

  1. Piano Sonata in B Minor
  2. Allegretto
  3. Largo
  4. Moderato

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Tchaikovsky One and Gilels are worth the cost alone. Two performances. A studio one with Reiner and a stunningly accurate live one with the New York Phil; and Mehta. The Chopin First Concerto was a favourite of Trevor Harvey's and no wonder. These RCA reissues are well worth the money for those of us who missed them first time round and those young enough to be exploring. The sound quality is usually very close to that you get nowadays.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
As described, good
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x8c6e0c6c) out of 5 stars 4 reviews
27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8c539b70) out of 5 stars Emil Gilels in his prime 7 Sept. 2012
By oldfolks - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
With one exception, the recordings in this box were made when the legendary Soviet pianist was in his late thirties to his late forties. The lone exception was the recording of the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto #1 with Zubin Mehta, which was made live in late 1979, when the pianist was sixty-three.

The earliest recording in this box is also the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto #1, this time accompanied by Fritz Reiner and the Chicago Symphony. It was made in 1955 and was Gilels' first recording with an American orchestra. This is a performance of a young man in his prime. The performance is brisk, unsentimental, and full of bravura. Gilels owned this work and he knew it. The recorded sound is very good.

The Brahms Piano Concerto #2, like the Tchaikovsky, was a Gilels specialty, and all the descriptors given to the Tchaikovsky apply equally to this concerto. Not indicated in the notes, by the way, is that the cello solo is played by Janos Starker, who was principal cellist of the orchestra at the time. Of its kind, it is one of the finest performances of the Brahms #2 ever put on record. Gilels' later remake with Jochum is more searching, but lacks the sweep of this performance. Except for a little tape hiss, the sound is excellent, notwithstanding its 1958 vintage.

The Chopin Piano Concerto #1 was recorded with Eugene Oramndy and the Philadelphia Orchestra. It's an excellent performance, and the 1964 sound is warm and full.

The solo pieces by Bach, Liszt, Schubert, and Shostakovich are all excellently done and the sound is excellent. It makes you wish that Gilels had recorded more Bach.

I wish I could be more enthusiastic about the 1979 remake of the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto. At this point in his career, Gilels was doing very few performances with orchestra, so this must have been some kind of event when he chose to do the Tchaikovsky with Zubin Mehta and the New York Philharmonic in Avery Fisher Hall. Gilels is as masterly as usual, and Mehta and the Philharmonic do an excellent job of accompanying him. The snag is the recording. It is one of CBS records (formely Columbia records)first attempts at a digital recording, and it is evident that they did not have much experience either in the format or in recording the orchestra in Avery Fisher Hall. The strings of the Philharmonic are wiry, bright, and difficult to listen to, and Gilels' piano tone is sometimes brittle and clattery. The applause given by the audience at the end would seem to indicate that what they heard sounded a lot better than what is on this recording.

Most of the material in this box has long been available in other formats. Collectors owning this music will not find the improvement in sound sufficient to justify replacing these recordings. That being said,however, this is an excellent collection, and a fitting tribute to a great pianist who died way too early.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8c539c18) out of 5 stars Gilels in mostly excellent form 15 May 2013
By Hank Drake - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Once upon a time, when I was newly acquainted with Emil Gilels' playing, I asked a pianist friend for his opinion. He referred to Gilels as a wonderful, "life-affirming" pianist. At that time, I had only heard a few off-label live issues that didn't show Gilels at his best, and my response was "In that case, I prefer `death-affirming' pianists". But the recordings in this 4 CD set show Gilels in mostly splendid form.

There are two recordings of the Tchaikovsky First Concerto in this set, and they make for fascinating comparison. The Tchaikovsky with Reiner and the Chicago Symphony strikes a nice balance between the ardent, poetic, and virtuosic elements of the work. Much the same can be said of the Brahms Second here. Gilels' rather plush, deep into the keys sonority is a nice contrast to Reiner's whip-crack accompaniment. But the conductor allows individual players time to shine, as in the cello solos during the slow movements of both the Tchaikovsky and Brahms. One odd thing about the early Tchaikovsky: the orchestra/piano perspective seems to change whenever the orchestra comes in for a big tutti, as if the volume levels are constantly being adjusted. For all that, the sound on the old analogue recording is far superior to the digital version with the New York Philharmonic under Mehta. Here, the strings have a glassy edge and the orchestra is poorly mixed. Gilels' contribution is fine, but some poor intonation from the winds and substandard sound quality disqualify this recording from being a favored choice.

The Brahms Second Concerto is presented in a more extroverted performance that one usually hears. Both Gilels and Reiner are "on the same page" with brisk tempos and tight phrasing in the first two movements, welcome relaxation and flexibility in the Andante, and a breezy finale. The sound problem in the Tchaikovsky is not present here.

Chopin's First Concerto is presented with a nice sense of pacing and flexibility, with a slow movement as intimate and hushed as any I've heard, and a discreet bounce in the finale. Ormandy and the Philadelphians provide a sympathetic accompaniment.

Schubert's Sonata D. 850 is not exactly a repertoire favorite. I've only heard three other recordings, by Kempff, Curzon, and Brendel. Gilels easily outclasses all three technically (Schubert's piano writing is surprisingly clumsy and difficult) but there are questionable interpretive decisions. The opening movement is unusually brisk and fluid; while the slow movement is more expansive than usual - Gilels' tempo would have rendered the movement incomprehensible on Schubert's piano, with its lack of sustaining power; the third movement is presented as a true Scherzo, but Gilels puts the brakes on for the Trio - throwing the structure off kilter; Gilels is back on form for the Rondo. But the overall effect is like looking at an object in a funhouse mirror - the relative weight of each movement is distorted.

There are three basic approaches to Liszt's mighty sonata: Demonic, Narrative, and Structural. The best performances balance those three approaches. In many ways, Gilels recording reminds me of Arthur Rubinstein's, except that Gilels has a greater range of lower-level dynamics and better overall technical control. Overall, this is a very "straight" performance, the Sonata played as a SONATA - without programmatic implications. It does not have the diabolical qualities of Horowitz's legendary 1932 recording; nor the ineffectual mooning of Watts' unfortunate 1985 version; nor, thankfully, is it study in sterile perfection, as is Pollini's recording.

Both the Bach French Suite and Shostakovich are given straightforward performances, although to my ears the Shostakovich sounded like warmed over Prokofiev and I really couldn't muster enthusiasm for the work.

Despite the lack of liner notes, these budget boxes seem to sell quickly. If you're interested in hearing Gilels at his best, snap it up.
11 of 22 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8c54c9fc) out of 5 stars Uneven (to say the least) 14 Oct. 2012
By Richard Steiger - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Here's my rundown of the performances in this set:

CD 1: The Tchaikovsky concerto with Reiner is quite entertaining. The recording itself spotlights the brass and (in particular) the winds in an extremely unrealistic manner so you'll hear plenty of detail you've never heard before (and may not want to hear again). The first two movements are solid, but unspectacular. The finale, taken at a very fast tempo, is truly blazing (and very Russian sounding). The Chopin concerto with Ormandy is glorious, a real gem. The clarity of Gilels' fingerwork at the end of the concerto is breathtaking.

CD 2: The Tchaikovsky concerto with Mehta was the one performance I didn't (or couldn't) listen to all the way through. In fact I couldn't get past the first movement. The screeching of the NY Phil in Avery Fisher Hall (so similar to some of Bernstein's recordings made there) combined with the crudity of Gilel's piano (sounding like coal going down the chute) made listening impossible. The Brahms #2 with Reiner is a good performance (certainly superior to his later performance with JOchum), though the first movement seems a little fast to me, but no match for a great performance (Fleisher/Szell for example).

CS 3: When I read the timing for the slow movement of the Schubert D major sonata (16:30), I assumed it was a misprint. Alas, it isn't. Gilels seems to take the tempo marking ("con moto") to mean "utterly static." The piano playing per se is gorgeous. I might have enjoyed the performance had I been able to endure more than half of it. The other three movements are mediocre at best. What a disaster! The live performance of the Bach prelude is also very very slow, but oddly effective, as is the French Suite.

CD 4: The Liszt piano sonata is another gem (and excellently recorded to boot). You might say Gilels interpretation is the opposite of that of Lescheno, which I praised extravagently a while back. While her performance is free-spirited, his is taut, disciplined and extremely well-played. I really enjoyed it. As for the Shostakovich, Gilels gives a superb performance of this academic exercise in tedium.

I think there's more than enough here to justify a purchase. At his worst, Gileles could be awful. But at his best he was one of the great pianists.
0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8c434ab0) out of 5 stars Great Pianist, But This Is A Mixed Bag 31 July 2013
By JohnK - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I am a huge fan of Emil Gilels and consider him one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century. It pains me a little to rate this inexpensive box set only 4 stars. The concerto performances with Reiner (Tchaikovsky#1 and Brahms#2) are both excellent, with decent sound for the period (1950's). The Chopin concerto with Ormandy is also very fine, with Gilels's beautiful piano tone evident throughout. But the later reading of the Tchaikovsky concerto (with Mehta) is scrappy and suffers from really poor recorded sound.
Among the solo pieces, the Bach, Liszt, and Shostakovich readings are all excellent (especially the Bach). But the Schubert sonata is not great repertoire and many will find the performance rather dull.
If you are interested in Gilels, I recommend the Beethoven sonatas on DG, the Brahms concertos with Jochum, and the Grieg recital on DG.
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