Schubert: Piano Sonata D 850; Liszt: Piano Sonata In B Minor / Gilels
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Notes and Editorial Reviews
Gilels's Liszt Sonata is tightly argued; even a little too much so. There is, perhaps, a spatial element missing, with the pianist going from one episode to the next without much pause for breath. Nevertheless, although one may not entirely be carried along by the performance, the impression of sheer permanence, control and pianistic finish certainly makes one sit up and listen. At the close of the one-movement Sonata, however (from the prestissimo octave section onwards), the pianist pulls out all the stops and leaves the listener with a feeling that the reading was rather more fiery than actually it had been.
I cannot let the sound-quality go unmentioned. It is quite brilliant for the date. The tone practically leaps out at
you from the speakers and stands comparison with many modern digital recordings. The Schubert D major is fractionally less vivid, but still remarkable for 1960. Here Gilels plays the opening movement fast. At this tempo, observance of the exposition repeat seems only natural. It is a performance rock-steady in matters of rhythm, though one has to concede that much of the effect is achieved through making the greatest contrasts in dynamics, with the massiveness of the first motif soon giving way to a scampering, nimble-fingered delicacy for the triplet quaver passages.
Some may find the slow movement a little mannered and over-pensive. But still, it would be hard to deny Gilels's success in highlighting the harmonic daring of Schubert's writing. The pianist knew exactly how to feature various episodes to optimum effect.
I had an impression that the sound was slightly fuller and more bass-orientated for the Scherzo and finale. The latter movement is again on the quick side, so that the semiquaver variations are more virtuosic than is usual. However, this in no way detracts from what is a most charming, if slightly feverish and unsettling reading.
– Gramophone [4/1994], reviewing an earlier release
Works on This Recording
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
A Classical Essential August 19, 2012
By W. Brown (Centerburg, OH) See All My Reviews
"Emil Gilels is known for bringing out the lyricl quality of music like Johannes Brahms and Edvard Grieg. Here he tackles Schubert and Liszt. On the Schubert sonata, the lyrical quality comes out especially in the second movement-con moto. Simply breathtaking! For those who like the demonic flair of Earl Wild and the lighting speeds of Vladimir Horowitz, Gilels provides a happy medium between the two with the Liszt sonata. Again, it's the lyrical quality that Gilels brings out in the music. One minor flaw- slight tape hiss in the recording. Aside from that, an essential recording to own!"