P1289. EMIL GILELS: French Suite #5 in G (Bach), Live Performance, 6 Dec., 1959, Leningrad; w. Neeme Jarvi Cond. Leningrad Phil.: Piano Concerto #2 in B-flat (Brahms), Live Performance, 17 Jan., 1968. [Gilels' Bach conveys a special dignity and beauty, remarkably well-recorded albeit the bronchitic audience in this wonderfully reverberant hall! The Brahms is, of course, magisterial!] Transfers by Yves St Laurent. (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL T-592.
"Emil Gilels, one of the world's great pianists and, in 1955, the first Soviet musician to perform in the United States since Sergei Prokofiev in 1921, was a stocky man with a shock of sandy hair and short, stubby fingers, uncharacteristic for a pianist. But his greatness was widely recognized. Howard Taubman of THE NEW YORK TIMES proclaimed him a 'great pianist'; on the occasion of his New York debut at Carnegie Hall on Oct. 4, 1955. After his first New York recital a week later, Harold C. Schonberg invoked the phrase 'little giant', the term the critic W. J. Henderson had used for the pianist and composer Eugen d'Albert at the turn of the century.
Mr. Gilels continued to receive such encomiums throughout his career, both in the Soviet Union, where he had taught at the Moscow Conservatory since 1938, and in the West. Altogether, he made 14 American tours, the last in 1983. On the occasion of his last New York recital, on April 16, 1983, Donal Henahan wrote in THE TIMES of his 'formidable, high-finish technique and beautiful control of nuance'.
Mr. Gilels led the procession of Soviet artists of his generation to the West; others who emerged shortly after his debut were David Oistrakh, the violinist; Sviatoslav Richter, the pianist, and Mstislav Rostropovich, the cellist. Mr. Rostropovich later became an outspoken dissident, but the others remained honored Russian citizens. Together, this group suggested that the traditions of Romantic music-making had not died out in the relatively isolated Russian musical world. 'The precepts of Leopold Auer still prevailed in violin pedagogy, and the pianists stemmed straight from Anton Rubinstein and the Leschetizky school', Mr. Schonberg wrote in 1979, on the occasion of one of Mr. Gilels' periodic returns to the American concert scene.
But especially in his later years, Mr. Gilels was a more Classically inclined pianist than, say, Mr. Richter. In 1970 he even offered an all-Mozart recital at Philharmonic (now Avery Fisher) Hall, which Allen Hughes of THE TIMES called 'superbly wrought'.
Basically, however, Mr. Gilels was a big, rich-toned pianist who could ride triumphantly over an orchestra in the mainstream Romantic piano concertos - those of Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt, Brahms and Tchaikovsky, all of which he recorded. He wasn't always note-perfect, but he commanded his repertory with an elan that made such flaws seem insignificant. And unlike some powerhouse virtuosos, he had a poetic gift that enlivened slow movements."
- John Rockwell, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 16 Oct., 1985
"Neeme Järvi was born in Tallinn. He initially studied music there, and later in Leningrad at the Leningrad Conservatory under Yevgeny Mravinsky, and Nikolai Rabinovich, among others. Early in his career, he held posts with the Estonian Radio and Television Symphony Orchestra, the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra and the Estonian National Opera in Tallinn. In 1971 he won first prize in the International Conductors Competition at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome. In 1982, he became the principal conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony, and held the post for 22 years, the longest-serving principal conductor in the orchestra's history. During his Gothenburg tenure, the recording profile and reputation of the orchestra greatly increased. He retained his post in Gothenburg until 2004, and now holds the title of Principal Conductor Emeritus (Chefdirigent Emeritus) with the orchestra. Järvi immigrated to the United States in 1980 with his family. He became an American citizen in 1985.
In the United States, Järvi became Music Director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in 1990. He served until 2005, and is now its Music Director Emeritus. In November 1996, Järvi conducted a joint concert by the Philadelphia Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic in Camden, New Jersey, to raise funds for the Philadelphia Orchestra, which was in the midst of a strike. He donated his services and received no fee for this concert. He received praise from US orchestra musicians for this gesture, which was controversial with several managers of American orchestras, who had urged him against conducting this concert.
Järvi became Music Director of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra (NJSO) in 2005, with an initial three-year contract. In March 2009, the NJSO announced that Järvi had agreed to serve as the orchestra's artistic adviser, and named him their conductor laureate, after the scheduled conclusion of his contract as music director.”