Classical: Records of the Week

emil gilels plays rachmaninov, schumann, brahms Recorded 1977 Revelation RV 10033 It's always exciting to discover hitherto unreleased performances by a great artist whom you assumed had omitted the works in question from his or her repertoire. Think of Horowitz in Chopin's F minor Fantasy, Heifetz in Tchaikovsky's Souvenir de Florence, Toscanini in Strauss's Ein Heidenleben - and now Emil Gilels, in a fabulous Rachmaninov group that includes the once ubiquitous C sharp minor Prelude and two song transcriptions -"Daisies" and "Vocalise".

The Prelude sets up a fateful toning, sonorous but solemn and with fully vented rage for the fiery middle section. In the songs, Gilels picks the leading melody from a crying chorus of counterpoint, grading dynamics as if each finger were working independently of its neighbours. Beyond a stern G minor Prelude, Op 23 No 5, he treats us to a quartet of Schumann rarities, the Four Pieces Op 32 with a "Gigue" that recalls the dancing Scherzo from the more familiar Overture, Scherzo and Finale.

Lastly, there's Brahms, the four Ballades, sullen narratives, aristocratically conveyed. Best of all is the Fourth, with its undulating accompaniment and unrelenting melancholy.

All 15 pieces were recorded during two concerts in December 1977; there's some applause and a rather close solo image, but the musical message is unhindered, the effect overwhelming.

Robert Cowan

Ligeti Etudes for Piano; Musica ricercata Pierre-Laurent Aimard Sony SK 62308 How does the composer who has everything square up to a hopelessly inadequate piano technique? By writing piano etudes. Cezanne had problems with perspective, but what wonders he accomplished "with his harmonies of colour, with his emotionally charged geometry, with his curves, volumes, and weight displacements!" So says Ligeti. And there is inspiration in the equation. He lays 10 fingers on the keyboard and imagines music. The golden age of pianism is fed back and forth across the ages, back and forth between idea and execution, and comes out sounding... well, like this. And it's the most emotionally centred musical abstraction in the world. Geometry with soul.

You too will allude to the source materials, you'll hear Scarlatti toughened up with the "barbarism" of Bartok and Prokofiev, you'll recall Debussy's harmonic elusiveness and textural awareness in the newest (there'll be more) and sparest of these studies - White on White (from Book 3), a simple homage of vast ambiguity. Cordes a vide and Arc-en-ciel suggest bleached Chopin, and in En suspens - a watery blue-note fantasy - and Entrelacs (more water) the long reach of jazz pianism takes us where it takes us.

These are fantastic pieces in every sense of the word. Desordre - the torrential opening gambit of Book 1 - is achieved by corrupting the underlying pulse, the "gridwork", with a minefield of renegade accents.

The pulsating Der Zauberlehrling is an anatomy of a trill, and in the diabolical collusion - L'escalier du diable and Coloana infinita - which sees off Book 2, Ligeti seems to add several octaves to each end of the keyboard. He and Pierre-Laurent Aimard, both. His achievement here is simply mind-bending.

Arts and Entertainment
Call The Midwife: Miranda Hart as Chummy

tv Jenny Lee may have left, but Miranda Hart and the rest of the midwives deliver the goods

Arts and Entertainment
Legendary blues and rock singer Joe Cocker has died of lung cancer, his management team as confirmed. He was 70
music The singer has died aged 70
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams looks concerned as Arya Stark
tv
Arts and Entertainment
photography Incredible images show London's skyline from its highest points
Arts and Entertainment
'Silent Night' last topped Classic FM's favourite Christmas carol poll in 2002
classical
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there