Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Franz Schubert; Franz Liszt - Sonatas (Emil Gilels)


Information

Composer: Franz Schubert; Franz Liszt
  1. Schubert - Piano Sonata in D major, D. 850/Op. 53: I. Allegro vivace
  2. Schubert - Piano Sonata in D major, D. 850/Op. 53: II. Con moto
  3. Schubert - Piano Sonata in D major, D. 850/Op. 53: III. Scherzo: Allegro vivace
  4. Schubert - Piano Sonata in D major, D. 850/Op. 53: IV. Rondo: Allegro moderato
  5. Liszt - Piano Sonata in B minor, S. 178: Lento assai; Allegro energico
  6. Liszt - Piano Sonata in B minor, S. 178: Andante sostenuto
  7. Liszt - Piano Sonata in B minor, S. 178: Allegro energico
  8. Liszt - Piano Sonata in B minor, S. 178: Andante sostenuto

Emil Gilels, piano
Date: 1960 (Schubert), 1964 (Liszt)
Label: RCA

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Review

Gilels's Liszt Sonata is tightly argued; even a little too much so. There is, perhaps, a spatial element missing, with the pianist going from one episode to the next without much pause for breath. Nevertheless, although one may not entirely be carried along by the performance, the impression of sheer permanence, control and pianistic finish certainly makes one sit up and listen. At the close of the one-movement Sonata, however (from the prestissimo octave section onwards), the pianist pulls out all the stops and leaves the listener with a feeling that the reading was rather more fiery than actually it had been.

I cannot let the sound-quality go unmentioned. It is quite brilliant for the date. The tone practically leaps out at you from the speakers and stands comparison with many modern digital recordings. The Schubert D major is fractionally less vivid, but still remarkable for 1960. Here Gilels plays the opening movement fast. At this tempo, observance of the exposition repeat seems only natural. It is a performance rock-steady in matters of rhythm, though one has to concede that much of the effect is achieved through making the greatest contrasts in dynamics, with the massiveness of the first motif soon giving way to a scampering, nimble-fingered delicacy for the triplet quaver passages.

Some may find the slow movement a little mannered and over-pensive. But still, it would be hard to deny Gilels's success in highlighting the harmonic daring of Schubert's writing. The pianist knew exactly how to feature various episodes to optimum effect.

I had an impression that the sound was slightly fuller and more bass-orientated for the Scherzo and finale. The latter movement is again on the quick side, so that the semiquaver variations are more virtuosic than is usual. However, this in no way detracts from what is a most charming, if slightly feverish and unsettling reading.

-- James Methuen-CampbellGramophone

More reviews:
http://www.classical-music.com/review/schubertliszt-0
http://classicalsource.com/db_control/db_cd_review.php?id=9627
https://www.amazon.com/Schubert-Sonata-Op-Liszt-Minor/dp/B000003FG9

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Franz Schubert (31 January 1797 – 19 November 1828) was an Austrian composer who was extremely prolific during his short lifetime. His output consists of over six hundred secular vocal works (mainly Lieder), seven complete symphonies, sacred music, operas, incidental music and a large body of chamber and piano music. Today, Schubert is ranked among the greatest composers of the late Classical era and early Romantic era and is one of the most frequently performed composers of the early nineteenth century. His music is characterized by pleasing tunes while still has "a great wealth of technical finesse".

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Franz Liszt (October 22, 1811 – July 31, 1886) was a prolific 19th-century Hungarian composer, virtuoso pianist, conductor, music teacher, arranger, organist, philanthropist, author, nationalist and a Franciscan tertiary. Liszt gained renown in Europe for his virtuosic skill as a pianist and in the 1840s he was considered to be the greatest pianist of all time. As a composer, Liszt was one of the most prominent composers of the "New German School". Some of his most notable musical contributions were the invention of the symphonic poem, developing the concept of thematic transformation as part of his experiments in musical form, and making radical departures in harmony.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franz_Liszt

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Emil Gilels (October 19, 1916 – October 14, 1985) was a Soviet pianist, widely regarded one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century. He is universally admired for his superb technical control and burnished tone. Gilels had an extensive repertoire, range from from baroque to late Romantic and 20th century. His interpretations of the central German-Austrian classics formed the core of his repertoire. He also performed and recorded chamber music with Leonid Kogan, Mstislav Rostropovich and duet with his daughter, Elena.

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