The Russian Piano Tradition - EMIL GILELS & YAKOV ZAK

arranged by FERRUCCIO BUSONI (1866–1924)
Overture ‘The Magic Flute’ for two pianos (K620)
Fantasia in F minor for two pianos (Fantasie für eine Orgelwalze after K608) 
Duettino Concertante for two pianos (after Concerto K459 finale)
Fugue in C minor for two pianos, K426 
Concerto for two pianos and orchestra in E flat K365
Variations for two pianos on a theme of Beethoven Op 35

These four titles are the first in a comprehensive survey of the many great pianists who worked in Russia in the Soviet era. The bulk of the issues will be divided into 'schools' which represent the three main teachers of this period - Neuhaus, Goldenweiser and Igumnov, - and their pupils. We begin with perhaps the greatest of these - Neuhaus, and two of his pupils - Emil Gilels & Yakov Zak.

That Gilels and Zak began performing together is perhaps not surprising as they both grew up in Odessa and then moved to Moscow to study with Neuhaus, however it was probably the Second World War, and their confinement to the Soviet Union where there was a need for morale boosting concerts, which brought the duo together in a partnership which lasted about ten years. With the exception of a performance of Carnival of the Animals their complete recordings are featured here, and a fascinating selection they are. Gilels was one of the few Russian pianists who played Mozart successfully and these recordings, either as original works, or transcribed by Busoni, present both pianists revelling in an easy virtuosity and joie-de-vivre. The disc is completed with Saint-Saëns’ masterly ‘Variations on a theme of Beethoven’, a work less well known than it should be - or would be, were it not written for two pianos. Perhaps surprisingly, its very French brilliance seems particularly suited to these two Russians

APR5664 Available on Compact Disc, as a Digital Download and to Stream