Chopin: Piano Sonata No. 3; Polonaises Nos. 3, 4, 6; Ballade No. 1
Emil Gilels
Catalogue No.

When Arthur Rubinstein first heard the fifteen-year-old Gilels perform in Odessa, he exclaimed ‘By God, I can’t describe it. If he comes to America, I might as well pack my bags and leave!’

‘Serious without solemnity, profound without pomp, he was a citizen of the world,’ wrote Jeremy Siepmann of Gilels. ‘Like music itself, his art was all encompassing, embracing both aspiration and achievement, if not always in equal measure. […] He was inconsistent […] but the failures of a genius are more nourishing than the successes of most lesser artists. Even on his off-days, Gilels made you think. At his greatest, you could only marvel.’

These magnificent recordings of Chopin are testament to Gilels’s all-encompassing artistry – one of his all-too-rare outings with this composer. As John Steane noted in Gramophone, ‘… there is not a bar that does not set one thinking about this music anew’.


Piano Sonata No. 3 in B minor, Op. 58
Polonaise No. 3 in A major, Op. 40 No. 1 ‘Military’
Polonaise No. 4 in C minor, Op. 40 No. 2
Polonaise No. 6 in A flat major, Op.53 ‘Heroic’
Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op. 23

Emil Gilels, piano

Recording information

Executive Producer: Guenther Breest (Sonata No. 3, Polonaises); unknown (Ballade No. 1)
Recording Producer: Cord Garben (Sonata No. 3, Polonaises); unknown (Ballade No. 1)
Balance Engineer: Klaus Scheibe (Sonata No. 3, Polonaises); unknown (Ballade No. 1)
Remastering Engineer: Chris Bernauer
Recording Locations: Moscow, 1949 (Ballade No. 1); Jesus-Christus-Kirche, Berlin, Germany, 15–20 September 1978 (Sonata No. 3, Polonaises)


‘No pianist distils tone with a finer touch … than Gilels. […] We can hear luminous and illuminating polyphony everywhere in Gilels’ Beethoven, Chopin and Schumann.’ (Richard Osborne, Gramophone)

‘richly eloquent and beautiful’ [Sonata No. 3] … ‘The Polonaises combine warmth with sturdiness … The disc is exemplary in quality of recorded sound.’ Gramophone (January 1980)

‘The Sonata is thoughtful and ruminative, seen through a powerful mind and wholly individual fingers, with some highly personal details, such as the gentle undulating accompaniment, like quietly tolling bells caressing the second group of the first movement, and there is a beautifully pensive and delicately coloured slow movement … there is not a bar that does not set one thinking about this music anew.’ Gramophone (John Steane, A Quarterly Retrospect, May 1980)