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COMPOSERS: Beethoven/Dvorák
WORKS: Piano Concerto No. 1; Piano Concerto No. 2; Piano Concerto No. 3;p Piano Concerto No. 4
PERFORMER: Emil Gilels (piano); Cleveland Orchestra/George Szell
CATALOGUE NO: CZS 5 69506 2/CZS 5 69509 2 ADD (1968/70)
Gilels (1916-85) was a pianist of bold gesture and robust personality whose earthy way with Beethoven, enjoying his youthful impulse and tempestuous defiance, had little to do with the hallowed veneration of an Arrau or Kempff. Orchestrally spotlit, tightly reined, favouring the composer’s shorter cadenzas for Nos 1 and 4, these classic Severance Hall performances, a landmark of cold-war Soviet/ American collaboration, are strong and poetic – with just the first movement of the Fourth needing time to settle. Typical of the mature Gilels (compare his Brahms B flat), tempi generally, at over 16 minutes longer than his ‘live’ cycle with Sanderling in Prague a decade earlier, err on the expressive. Among the fillers, Dvorák’s Eighth may not be the most obvious coupling – but under the legendary Szell, weeks before his death, it flowers memorably. Ates Orga