So often the favourite version of a work is the first version one encounters properly. There are exceptions, but not this time, for The Knife. The supreme version of the amazing Waldstein sonata is that by Emil Gilels, on Deutsche Grammophon.
It has to be said that the Russians produce consistently great pianists, Gilels and Richter from one era, Volodos, Sokolov, gambling Anglophile Berezovsky – amongst many – from the present day. Gilels had great technique – they all do, but also a very specific capacity to thrill – sounds daft, but true – and often real poetry. Try his famous disc of Grieg’s Lyric Pieces.
He brings all this to the Waldstein, with the concluding rondo quite unmatched. Listen to Barenboim – he just can’t hack it.
The Knife’s only regret with this piece is that Glenn Gould never got round to it. Possibly just as well.
ps: Andras Schiff is not my favourite pianist, but this talk is really good