Historic Russian Archives: Emil Gilels Plays Beethoven (6 CD box set, FLAC)
Historic Russian Archives: Emil Gilels Plays Beethoven (6 CD box set, FLAC)

Performer: Emil Gilels
Orchestra: USSR Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Kurt Masur
Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven
Audio CD
Number of Discs: 6 CD box set
Format: FLAC (tracks+cue)
Label: Brilliant Classics
Size: 1.47 GB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes

Disc: 1
01. Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major, Op. 15: Allegro con brio
02. Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major, Op. 15: Largo
03. Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major, Op. 15: Rondo, allegro scherzando
04. Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 19: Allegro con brio
05. Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 19: Adagio
06. Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 19: Rondo

Disc: 2
01. Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58: Allegro moderato
02. Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58: Andante con moto
03. Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58: Rondo, vivace
04. Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat major (‘Emperor’), Op. 73: Allegro
05. Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat major (‘Emperor’), Op. 73: Adagio un poco mosso
06. Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat major (‘Emperor’), Op. 73: Rondo, allegro

Disc: 3
01. Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37: Allegro con brio
02. Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37: Largo
03. Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37: Rondo, allegro
04. Piano Sonata No. 12 in A flat major (‘Funeral March’), Op. 26: Andante con variazioni
05. Piano Sonata No. 12 in A flat major (‘Funeral March’), Op. 26: Scherzo, allegro molto
06. Piano Sonata No. 12 in A flat major (‘Funeral March’), Op. 26: Maestoso andante, Marche funebre sulla morte d’un eroe
07. Piano Sonata No. 12 in A flat major (‘Funeral March’), Op. 26: Allegro
08. Piano Sonata No. 16 in G major, Op. 31/1: Allegro vivace
09. Piano Sonata No. 16 in G major, Op. 31/1: Adagio grazioso
10. Piano Sonata No. 16 in G major, Op. 31/1: Rondo, allegretto – presto

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Disc: 4
01. Piano Sonata No. 29 in B flat major (‘Hammerklavier’), Op. 106: Allegro
02. Piano Sonata No. 29 in B flat major (‘Hammerklavier’), Op. 106: Scherzo, assai vivace
03. Piano Sonata No. 29 in B flat major (‘Hammerklavier’), Op. 106: Adagio sostenuto
04. Piano Sonata No. 29 in B flat major (‘Hammerklavier’), Op. 106: Largo – allegro – tempo I – allegro risoluto

Disc: 5
01. Piano Sonata No. 7 in D major, Op. 10/3: Presto
02. Piano Sonata No. 7 in D major, Op. 10/3: Largo e mesto
03. Piano Sonata No. 7 in D major, Op. 10/3: Menuetto, allegro
04. Piano Sonata No. 7 in D major, Op. 10/3: Rondo, allegro
05. Piano Sonata No. 25 in G major (‘Cuckoo’), Op. 79: Presto alla tedesca
06. Piano Sonata No. 25 in G major (‘Cuckoo’), Op. 79: Andante
07. Piano Sonata No. 25 in G major (‘Cuckoo’), Op. 79: Vivace
08. Piano Sonata No. 26 in E flat major (‘Les Adieux’), Op. 81a: Adagio – allegro
09. Piano Sonata No. 26 in E flat major (‘Les Adieux’), Op. 81a: Andante espressivo
10. Piano Sonata No. 26 in E flat major (‘Les Adieux’), Op. 81a: Vivacissimamente
11. Piano Sonata No. 27 in E minor, Op. 90: Mit Lebhaftigkeit
12. Piano Sonata No. 27 in E minor, Op. 90: Nicht zu geschwind und sehr singbar vorzutragen

Disc: 6
01. Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor (‘Pathétique’), Op. 13: Grave-allegro di molto e con brio
02. Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor (‘Pathétique’), Op. 13: Adagio cantabile
03. Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor (‘Pathétique’), Op. 13: Rondo, allegro
04. Piano Sonata No. 14 in C sharp minor (‘Moonlight’), Op. 27/2: Adagio sostenuto
05. Piano Sonata No. 14 in C sharp minor (‘Moonlight’), Op. 27/2: Allegretto
06. Piano Sonata No. 14 in C sharp minor (‘Moonlight’), Op. 27/2: Presto agitato
07. Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor (‘Appassionata’), Op. 57: Allegro assai
08. Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor (‘Appassionata’), Op. 57: Andante con moto
09. Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor (‘Appassionata’), Op. 57: Allegro ma non troppo

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hra_emil_gilels_plays_beethoven01.rar – 265.6 MB
hra_emil_gilels_plays_beethoven02.rar – 323.4 MB
hra_emil_gilels_plays_beethoven03.rar – 292.3 MB
hra_emil_gilels_plays_beethoven04.rar – 186.3 MB
hra_emil_gilels_plays_beethoven05.rar – 293.1 MB
hra_emil_gilels_plays_beethoven06.rar – 197.6 MB

An Essential Supplement to Gilels’s Studio Recordings

Brilliant has done us all a great favor by unearthing historic broadcast performances (and other material) from the radio archives of the former Soviet Union. Already available are superb Richter, Shafran and Oistrakh anthologies. Now we have two volumes dedicated to Gilels, unquestionably one of the great “keyboard lions” of the Twentieth Century.

The volume under consideration here, devoted entirely to Beethoven, is particularly valuable, insofar as the recordings are all relatively recent (1961-1984), the sonics are almost uniformly good (given the vagaries of live broadcast material), and the performances constitute an illuminating gloss on Gilels’s studio recordings of this same repertoire–a Beethoven sonata cycle for DG left incomplete by the pianist’s death, a concerto cycle with Szell and the Clevland Symphony for EMI, and earlier EMI traversals of concertos 4 & 5 with Ludwig and the Philharmonia. Whereas in the studio Gilels, even at his most insightful, could be too deliberate, in live performance he is altogether freer, more spontaneous, while missing none of the majesty he always evoked in Beethoven.

The concertos are a case in point. Taken down in 1976 from a cycle of live performances with the USSR State Symphony under Kurt Masur, these renditions convey a graciousness and poise not found, on the whole, in the more tight-fisted versions under Szell (the conductor may have been the culprit–a poor match, in any case). Yet the pianist is also disposed to take more interpretive and technical risks than in the studio; some pay off, others don’t; but the creative tensions of these live occasions prove riveting regardless of occasional misfires. Masur and his USSR forces are clearly in their element as well; there is nothing routine or merely ‘accompanimental’ about the orchestral contribution. Szell and Ludwig get more refined playing from their respective orchestras in Gilels’s studio versions, but Masur is more enlivening than either. The one exception for this listener would be Concerto #4, where, in an effort to emphasize the warmth and elegance of Beethoven’s writing, the conductor inclines too much toward mellowness (the finale, in particular, tends to hang fire).

The sonata performances are simply tremendous. The “Hammerklavier”, in particular, though somewhat more loose-jointed than Gilels’s celebrated DG account, goes more directly to the heart of the matter. It is less Olympian, more humane, and also far more exciting. Much the same could be said of the other sonatas in this anthology. In live performance Gilels’s Beethoven tends toward the incendiary, even if that virtually guarantees some technical slips (which Gilels has a way of cleverly concealing–I have rarely heard a pianist so effective at “damage control”!). Some listeners may find such occasional finger faults and dropped notes irritating on repetition; that caveat aside, however, this box contains some of the most brilliant performances you are likely to hear of these evergreen masterpieces.

Who then should purchase this set? Economy-minded neophytes should probably look elsewhere for “standard recommendations” in this repertoire (I would suggest Kempff or Ashkenazy for the sonatas and Fleisher-Szell or Kempff-van Kempen for the concertos). For those who already know this music inside out, and who may already cherish Gilels’s studio versions of these works, this box is an essential supplement made all the more attractive by being surprisingly well recorded (for Russian archive material), decently presented, and very inexpensive. Strongly recommended.

3 Comments

  1. This is exactly the thing I need! I have been looking for Gilels` recordings of Beethoven piano sonatas.

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