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Piano Concertos 4 & 5
Beethoven, Gilels, Ludwig
Piano Concertos 4 & 5
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (6) - Disc #1

The great Russian pianist recorded these concertos again later in his career, with George Szell and the incomparable Cleveland Orchestra for EMI. Those recordings are also available on CD. However, the critical consensus...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Beethoven, Gilels, Ludwig, Philharmonia Orch.
Title: Piano Concertos 4 & 5
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Label: Testament UK
Release Date: 3/10/1997
Album Type: Import
Genre: Classical
Styles: Forms & Genres, Concertos, Historical Periods, Classical (c.1770-1830), Instruments, Keyboard
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 749677109523

The great Russian pianist recorded these concertos again later in his career, with George Szell and the incomparable Cleveland Orchestra for EMI. Those recordings are also available on CD. However, the critical consensus seems to be that Emil Gilels was in better form here, even if Ludwig was no Szell and the Philharmonia can't match the Clevelanders in precision or collective virtuosity. Mind you, there's nothing at all wrong with the conducting or the playing--it's quite fine--but it's Gilels who carries the day. He was one of those artists with technique to burn, but who placed it firmly in the service of the most classically severe music he could find. The result is a particularly combustible blend of passion and intellect, particularly in evidence here. -- David Hurwitz

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CD Reviews

Lyrical performances worth treasuring
C. W. Lee | 10/14/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The legendary Emil Gilels was an awesome pianist, and if you have not heard him before, then prepare to be impressed by his midas touch. His astonishing tone, clarity, expression, tempo, the way he shapes the music...listen and find out for yourself.This (his first) studio recording of the Beethoven piano concertos #4 and #5 was made when he was 40, and it is interesting to compare them with his recordings 11 years later with Szell/Cleveland. Although they're are all superb, for me, I prefer these earlier versions with Ludwig/Philharmonia. The playing here shows the sparkle and passionate energy of the younger Gilels, compared to the equally marvelous but more introspective and 'mature' style of his later years.Despite its age, this recording is happily in stereo and the digital re-mastering and transfer is excellent; it's hard to tell that it dates from the 1950s.The accompanying booklet is nice too, with a well-written essay, and best of all, has three (2 large, 1 medium-size) photos of a youthful looking Emil Gilels, which were taken during these recording sessions; two show him in discussion with conductor Ludwig, and the other is the well-known shot of him sitting pensively at the piano. This CD can be bought with confidence in the knowledge you won't likely find any better by another pianist. Gramophone called this recording of the #4 concerto as perhaps the best ever - the Penguin Guide said it was tempted to delete the word 'perhaps' - and it's hard to disagree. Judge for yourself."
Intimate perfection
Norman Duffy | Amsterdam | 11/26/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"As ever, these performance "compete" with the later performances where Gilel was partnered by the formidable George Szell, something of the classic martinet. Those performances are predictably fine although rather severe and sometimes unyielding.These performances, and particularly that of number 4, are anything but severe or unyielding. They are in fact evidence of an almost unique fusion of musical intellect, technical mastery and an honesty and musicianship that spills effortlessly into the realms of the spiritual.Sounds nonsensical? Perhaps, but the evidence is a performance in number 4, and perhaps marginally less so in the "Emperor", that has rarely been matched and never surpassed. Right from the opening simple but so difficult G major chord, we are in the presence of a master musician who recreates the work in every note that has been carefully weighted and placed within a aural and musical perspective that is entirely Gilels' own.Passage after passage is delivered with a wonderful sense of inevitability and poetic rightness that makes it so satisfying. This playing grabs and holds your attention leading to the belief that these are first and foremost works of sublime genius. In no way is this playing by pianist or orchestra that seeks to draw attention to itself. In that sense it is up there with Solomon and Schnabel, and, for me, endlessly more satisfying than more modern masters like Brendel or Ashkenazy, good though they undoubtedly are.If you want modern sound and superb performances, you can turn with ease of mind to the Perahia/Haitink partnership on Sony. However, with recorded sound that casts a rather beautiful aura over the performances and fine support from orchstra and under appreciated conductor, these are probably as good as any any performances of these you will come across."
The magical Gilels!
Krish Krishnanand | San Jose, CA United States | 11/30/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I have all the versions of Gilels playing Beethoven's 4th in addition to several others. Listening to Gilels here is almost a religious experience! Those of you who want to taste the pure lyricisim of Beethoven's 4th will do well in acquiring this along with Maria Grinberg/Neeme Jarvi. Odd that the Penguin guide makes no mention of these."