Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Rachmaninov/Schumann/Brahms
LABELS: Telstar Revelation
WORKS: Preludes, Op. 3/2, Op. 23/2, 5 & 10, Op. 32/11; Vocalise
PERFORMER: Emil Gilels (piano)
Gilels was an aristocrat of the keyboard, purposeful and disciplined, with a strong sense of direction and a rare ability to shape an interpretation. Not one of the ‘Romantic = do-whatever-you-like-with-the-time’ school, he always kept his rubato under control, though never at the expense of the poetry. Where it is most evident here, in the Rachmaninov Vocalise and the Schumann ‘Romanze’, it magically serves the spirit of the music, and the playing everywhere has great authority.


The melody line of Rachmaninov’s Op. 23/10 is overemphasised, the pianissimo in Op. 32/11 rather loud, but these are live performances and the miking may not reflect the balance in the hall. I know of no justification for the accelerando at the end of Op. 23/5, but it produces an exhilarating effect. The Schumann and Brahms are excellent, apart from the understated bass line at the start of the latter composer’s fourth Ballade.


The audience coughing scarcely obtrudes, except for one sufferer who wrecks the final chord of Rachmaninov’s Op. 3/2. A small price to pay, though, for an impressive disc. Wadham Sutton