A cellist friend of mine once spent some time with Sir Colin Davis working on some Mozart chamber works. He said that the experience had him feeling that he was working with Mozart in person, such was Colin Davis' authority. I feel a bit like this when I listen to Emil Gilels playing Beethoven.
This is a recording of 2 of Beethoven's late piano sonatas, written when Beethoven had become profoundly deaf. The days of the more 'public' masterworks had passed and he was communicating more of his complex inner world in which traditional notions of form and structure were becoming less prevalent. The expression marking 'innigkeit' seems appropriate to most of his music even if he did not actually use it all the time.
I have enjoyed Gilels' recording of the Hammerklavier ever since it was first released; I recall going to hear Gilels perform it in London in 1984. Not only do we hear some amazingly virtuosic playing in the fast outer movements, we also hear wonderfully concentrated playing in the long slow movement. The opus 101 sonata is also beautifully played - less violent/virtuosic but just as revolutionary in form. Some people have commented on the way that Gilels appears to 'thump' out some of the music. This may be a matter of taste but for me, this is Beethoven pushing the instrument to it utter limits for maximum effect. The music is not always pretty. I find this exciting and wouldn't want in any other way.