Beethoven: Sonaten, Op. 26; Schumann: Toccata, Op. 7, Arabeske, Op. 18; Bramhs Vier Balladen, Op. 10
The Soviet pianist Emil Gilels also had a huge repertoire. He began his international career at a relatively late date and impressed one in particular with the carefully considered sense of unity and interconnectedness of his concert programmes. This was also the case in Gilels’ penultimate concert at the Salzburg Festival, in the summer of 1976. Beethoven’s middle-period sonatas op. 26 and op. 31/1 can rarely have been heard in such a rounded, masterful interpretation, so devoid of any superficial effects as is here the case in Gilels’ performance (even in the variation movement of op. 26). After the interval he moved on to Schumann (with the Toccata op. 7 and the Arabeske op. 18) and to Brahms (the Four Ballads op. 10), though this was far more than a mere musico-historical progression, for Gilels here entered into dynamic realms of extreme subtlety and tenderness alongside thundering eruptions, all of which gave expression to the manner in which these post-Beethovenian composers explored to the full the formal possibilities inherent in the music.