Beethoven: "Waldstein" Sonata in C minor - Allegro con brio
Beethoven: "Waldstein" Sonata in C minor - Introduzione
Beethoven: "Waldstein" Sonata in C minor - Rondo
Chopin: Variations on La ci darem la mano
Prokofiev: Piano Sonata No. 3 in A minor op. 28
Debussy: "Images 1" - Reflets dans l eau
Debussy: "Images 1" - Hommage a Rameau
Debussy: "Images 1" - Mouvement. Anime
Prokofiev: Molto giocoso
Prokofiev: Con vivacita
Ravel: Alborada del gracioso
Stravinsky: Danse russe
J.S. Bach / Siloti: Prelude in B minor BWV 855a
Emil Gilels :
The Seattle Recital
Deutsche Grammophon Presents a Previously Unreleased Recording of Emil Gilels in Celebration of the 100th Anniversary of His Birth. This acclaimed 1964 recital, recorded live in Seattle, includes major works by Beethoven, Debussy, Stravinsky and others
Between 1955 and 1983 Emil Gilels toured North America twelve times. Unlike his Soviet colleague and rival Sviatoslav Richter, Gilels loved the US. "I first came here 22 years ago," he said in 1977. "I lost here in the United States very much of my heart. You know, I left here a good portion of my life." This certainly held true for his fifth tour, an arduous three months of recitals, concerto dates and recording sessions that began and ended on the East Coast. In between came four West Coast appearances – in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Portland, as well as the present recital recorded in the Seattle Opera House on December 6, 1964 and released here for the first time.
For all of his acclaim as a driving virtuoso, Gilels always channeled his technical brilliance and formidable powers of projection into substantial programs and serious, large-scale works. Still, one cannot deny that the opening selection, Beethoven's "Waldstein" Sonata, is also a showpiece, abounding in fast runs, multi-directional scales, dramatic trills, broken and unbroken octaves, novel pedal effects and other virtuoso devices. Yet there is a mindful clarity and directness with which Gilels "orchestrates" Beethoven's pianistic textures and registral deployment.
It must be remembered that Prokofiev was still a living presence to musicians of Gilels's generation. Indeed, the composer himself entrusted Gilels with the Eighth Sonata's premiere, and the compact, intensely energetic Third Sonata that opens this recital's second half was a long-standing Gilels specialty. By contrast, selections from Prokofiev's Visions fugitives reveal how sensitively and colorfully Gilels could convey the composer's often underestimated lyrical sensibility.
Listeners expecting to hear Debussy and Ravel served up with traditional allure, suggestiveness and pastel shadings may be taken aback at first by Gilels's dynamism and sinew, only to surrender to the delight of his singing tone and exuberant rhythm. True, Reflets dans l'eau's climatic point evokes waves at high tide rather than whirlpools, but what is a live performance without risk? At the same time, Gilels shapes Hommage à Rameau's gently declarative unison melody lines with the most ravishing legato and subtle use of the sustaining pedal.
It is no small wonder that the vocally enthusiastic audience would not let the pianist go, and Gilels responds with two encores. The Russian Dance from Stravinsky's Petrushka differs remarkably from the sleek and streamlined presentations associated with modern-day virtuosos, or from the kind of percussive exactitude characterizing the composer's keyboard aesthetic. As critic Stephen Wigler explained, "Gilels makes Petrushka sound like music written by a Russian composer of the late 19th century, which was exactly what Stravinsky was trained to be and precisely what he was trying to hide."
As the concert unfolds, the give-and-take between the pianist's inspiration and the public's appreciation is palpable, boding well for future Seattle appearances. But it was not to be; Gilels would only return once more to the city, in 1979: yet another reason to treasure this previously unpublished document of one of the 20th century's greatest pianists in a live concert – his preferred setting – and at the height of his powers.