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Ryan Vigil
American Record Guide, March 2014

Gilels’s playing is supple but incisive.

…these performances do justify the release of this interesting recording. © 2014 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb International, February 2014

Gilels shows how acutely sensitive performance can be, how malleable interpretation can be, and how an artist’s perception of a myriad of small or larger details can incrementally shape the course of his performance. For Gilels’ many admirers that may well be reason enough to enjoy this excellent recital. © 2014 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Rob Cowan
Gramophone, December 2013

ICA’s ‘first CD release’ of a March 1979 recital by Emil Gilels for the Abbotsholme Arts Society in Staffordshire has too many wonderful moments to ignore. The recital opens with Schumann’s Vier Klavierstücke, Op 32, sounding like offcuts from the piano suites, whimsical essays, superbly played.

Marvellous stuff but less exceptional than the four jewels in this particular crown, Brahms’s Four Ballades, Op 10, where Gilels vies with Michelangeli for a combination of cool bravura and pathos. The first in D minor rises to a commanding climax and the second, taken at a broad tempo, flanks stern chordal writing with exquisite poetry, Gilels as ever bringing out significant inner voices. The dogged, rhythmically insistent Intermezzo features at its centre bell-like chords and an implied cuckoo call, while the last of the Ballades is given the finest performance of all.  Listening to Gilels’s ecstatic performance reinforces one’s sense of wonder afresh. © 2013 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

Gary Lemco
Audiophile Audition, October 2013

Chopin may have not dominated Gilels’ programs, but his authority in music of the Polish master could hardly be doubted after his fine account of the E Minor Concerto with Ormandy for CBS. The exquisite work in A-flat Major, espessivo, permits Gilels the poet to shape Chopin’s tender intimacy with refined ardor. The grand 1844 Sonata in B Minor came to Gilels in 1977, long after its steady companion in B-flat Minor. Gilels seems beguiled by the power of rubato for this enchanted, expansive first movement, played less maestoso than teneremente – especially in its nocturnal secondary motif – although the bass trills convey the dark undercurrents of Chopin’s passion. Rarely has the sheer delicacy of Chopin’s polyphony achieved such a glowing effect. Gilels’ jeu perle does not diminish for the lithe gossamer Scherzo in E-flat, its two outer sections’ framing poetic counterpoint in B Major. We have been awaiting the operatic Largo, the rocking accompaniment as refined as the right hand triplets Gilels executes later in the movement. The chains of melodic scales that issue from Gilels for the major course of the movement should place every music lover in thrall. Finally, the Presto last movement, a potent tarantella whose rondo theme gains more sweep with each ritornello, has Gilels in tumultuous throttle, his own frenzy barely contained.

At over 80 minutes of music and beautifully recorded, we might consider this document among “the great recordings of the century.” © Audiophile Audition Read complete review

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