Andrei Gavrilov may have all but vanished but it is a great boon to have this recording still available, and at a good price. In my opinion, this is quite simply the best performance of the 24 Etudes ever recorded, outclassing Pollini, Ashkenazy, Perahia, Lortie, Berezovsky, and all others. Gavrilov has always been a hyper-sensitive pianist, and this is apparent in each of these wonderful pieces. Listen to the almost demonic drive in Op.10 No.4, or Op.25 No.12: this is truly transcendental pianism! Then listen to the lyricism of Op.10 No.6: it is clear that Gavrilov feels every note of this music. All the popular Etudes with epithets - the "Revolutionary", "Tristesse", "Black Key", "Winter Wind" - are superbly performed. My only reservation is that the recording quality is not all that it might be, but this is scarcely noticeable when one is swept away by the performance itself.
Kempff is a decent pianist, especially in concert with other chamber musicians, but his Chopin is speedy, over-bright and unsubtle. I normally love BIS recordings but in this instance the piano sounds too big across the front soundstage and this, together with the bright, sharp recorded sound only emphasise the lack of magic here.
Dazzling! Brilliant interpretation and technique. A total joy to listen to anytime. Freddy reinvigorates works that are familiar with insight, attack and virtuosity. All way in control but very close to the edge.