Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Emil Gilels Plays Chopin & Liszt (Moscow, 1961)

The homogeneity of [Chopin second] sonata [1838] depends on two factors : absolute virtuosity and pure creative fiarce. Their line of demarcation, so to speak, passes between the second and third movements. The initial "Grave" and the "Scherzo" are of great brilliance and call for the mastery of the most spectacular aspects of pianistic artistry. Their kinship with certain of the Etudes, Preludes and Waltzes is evident. On the other hand, one is struck hy the singularity of the "Presto" finale. Strange music, unorthodox in sonorous texture, to he played "sotto voce e legato", it consists of 74 enigmatic hars. Its constant and seemingly capricious modulations sometimes carry it to the point of almost breaking with the constitutive system of Western art music. A piece like this certainly prefigures Liszt’s Nuages gris and Bagatelle sans tonalité. Bach's Chromatic Fantasy had already signified a distinct pushing back of certain borders... The name of the great cantor of Leipzig suggests the echoes of the extremely rich worlds of sound that appear here and there in Liszt's Sonata in B minor, another monument in the piano repertory. There is hardly a lack of chromaticism here, as Richard Wagner was to recall. The little fugue in the "Allegro energico" is another nod to Bach. Chopin's influence is obvious. The presence of an extensive "Recitativo" and an almost vocal cadenza attest to Liszt's interest in the opera of his time : Lucia di Lammermoor and certain operatic paraphrases come to mind.
And what of the form of this thirty minute work that, like Alban Berg's Sonata, Op. 1, gives the illusion of a single, unbroken block ? Let us hear Alfred Cortot on the subject : "This is a free-form sonata, we need not deny it... "Introduction", "Allegro", "Recitativo" and "Andante sostenuto". Recapitulation of the "Allegro" as a "Finale". Only the addition of the epilogue [shows] an evident independence with regard to the consecrated pattern." The sense of form Liszt possessed was such that it embraced at one and the same time bboth microcosm and macrocosm. Thus, in  the course of the first 17 bars there is the successive statement of the three themes upon which the work is constructed. Their numerous transformations will generate the subsequent deportment of the sonata. Cortot goes on : "No programme dictates the flow of this gigantic composition... All of the resources of the piano are deployed with prodigious innovativeness and ingenuity of writing..."
Philippe Olivier, from the booklet

Emil Gilels
Gilels Edition, vol. III
(Chopin & Liszt)

Tracks

Frédéric Chopin
(1810-1849)


Sonata n° 2 "Funèbre" in B-Flat minor, Op. 35
1 I. Grave. Doppio movimento  5:34
2 II. Scherzo  6:50
3 III. Marche Funèbre. Lento  7:31
4 IV. Presto  1:21

Franz Liszt
(1811-1886)

5 Piano Sonata in B minor, S.178  29:05
Lento assai - Allegro energico - Andante sostenuto
Allegro energico - Andante sostenuto - Lento assai


*

Emil Gilels - p

Recorded in Performance, Moscow ; October 10, 1961

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musician3 said...

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