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Gary Lemco
Audiophile Audition, August 2012

From the opening piano entry, Gilels provides a searing, searching performance, with the other rough-hewn, muscular first-movement cadenza by Beethoven generally ignored by practicing virtuosi. The Usher Hall audience quickly grasps the authority of the poetically virile rendition offered them, and an aura of rapt silence surrounds the performers until the final chords of the Rondo: Vivace.  The close miking of the Halle woodwinds does much to augment the sonic definition of this genial collaboration. The second movement Andante con moto, the famous dialogue of “Orpheus and the Furies,” basks in an expansive, deliberately measured pace, a sure-fire dramatic approach to the brilliant colors of the third movement.

…Kondrashin has his LPO in fine Slavic fettle. Insofar as the Beethoven Concerto reveals the thoughtful, passionate wizard in Gilels, the Tchaikovsky unleashes the firebrand who can just as easily confide tender intimacies in his native colors.  Even for a studio-conceived performance, the Tchaikovsky emanates an electric current that warrants repeated hearings. © 2012 Audiophile Audition Read complete review

James A. Altena
Fanfare, May 2012

This disc features the great Russian virtuoso pianist Emil Gilels (1916–85) in two signature pieces from his extensive repertoire. What is most intriguing to hear is how clearly Gilels adapts his interpretations in order to truly collaborate with a given conductor, instead of insisting that the latter conform to a fixed interpretation of his. Thus, here with Barbirolli, Gilels offers an introspective and pastoral view of the score…the Gilels collector will definitely want this.

Gilels was a regular champion of the sorely and unjustly neglected Second Piano Concerto of Tchaikovsky…Gilels is heard to much better advantage, both sonically and interpretively, in his excellent studio recording…this release easily surpasses all previous versions for sound quality. In sum, this issue is for collectors of the pianist, and primarily of interest for the Beethoven. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review on Fanfare

Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb International, April 2012

The world’s broadcast vaults continue to offer their bounty to the Caesar of commercial traffic. Often this results, as here, in multiple duplications from an artist’s studio or indeed live discography. It’s for the market to deal with this increase of possibilities whilst the critic can sit back and enjoy the largesse that comes his way.

And in Gilels’ case, it really is largesse. A performance of Beethoven’s G major Concerto may elicit a wary response…But his collaboration with Barbirolli, live from the Usher Hall in Edinburgh, brings a subtly different series of responses. There is a just balance between grand intensity and introspective stasis…The slow movement contrasts a sinewy, implacable orchestra against, at first, a barely audible piano, and the music inexorably relinquishes its dialectical grip, unwinding until it reaches a space seemingly ungoverned by time. In this performance, Gilels seems to be moving toward the outermost limits of introspection; certainly amongst the most introspective that I have heard from him on disc in this work.

Such considerations don’t really apply in the case of Tchaikovsky’s Second Concerto. The orchestra is the LPO, and the conductor an equally great accompanist, though one of a very different stripe, Kirill Kondrashin. The sound here from the BBC’s Maida Vale studios is good and rather less hissy than the Usher Hall concert. Gilels and Kondrashin use Siloti’s edition of the concerto—what would doubtless be called a mash-up today. Notwithstanding this, the command of rhetoric, romance and passion is remarkable and Kondrashin encourages the LPO fully to collaborate, an invocation extended to the two string soloists in the slow movement where the music thins to chamber intimacies and conversational reflection. The finale by contrast is genuinely fiery and exciting.

The disc enshrines two performances of subtlety and power. Whether you need it depends on your priorities with regard to live material and duplication. But I’m very glad, and fortunate, to have heard it. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review

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