True art is characterized by an irresistible urge in the creative artist.
~ Albert Einstein
Emil Gilels is one of the Piano’s great Forces of Nature. He has the qualities of a Poet and a violent storm wrapped in one. Of all his recordings, Petroushka is his most definitive – some of the most orchestral playing in recorded history!
Like Michelangeli or Radu Lupu, you hear a Sculptor’s approach to the Piano in Gilels, but there’s an essential difference: In the first two, you usually hear only the finished product, luminous and calm; in Gilels, it’s the actual process of Sculpting that you witness, like Performance Art in a Piazza. You see the piercingly visionary eyes of the artist, his rippling muscles, the gleaming steel of the hammer and chisel, the chips flying left and right – you witness the birth of a work of Art. The youthful, fearless struggle with the elements is viscerally exciting, mesmerizing! Anything could happen.
When you do something,
you should burn yourself up completely, like a good bonfire,
leaving no trace of yourself.
~ Shunryu Suzuki
Occasionally, usually in studio recordings, you hear a much calmer, more passive Gilels, where the product of his sculpting becomes more important than the actual process. Wisdom and calm abound. And this side of Gilels has a glowing appeal as well, like Arrau or late Rubinstein.
Gilels at his best comes between these two extremes, when you feel the inevitability of the final product, but also the singing reality of the moment of creation – it’s present and eternal at once. Here, Gilels and Michelangeli, seeming opposites, occasionally meet.
Zen space, the space of Giants...