Chopin has been a central part of Ashkenazy's repertory since his participation in the International Chopin Competition at Warsaw in 1955, when he won second prize at the age of eighteen. During the years 1974-1984 Ashkenazy recorded his acclaimed survey of Chopin's solo piano music. In the early part of his recording career he had recorded selected works and from time to time he has revisted key pieces in the studio. This new recital brings together a selection of late Chopin pieces and includes one of Ashkenazy's favourite nocturnes, Op.62 no.1 in B major, a piece which he regularly performs as an encore at his recitals.
Ivan Moravec (1930) is one of the most important Czech artists of today. He is often invited into the recording studios and his numerous recordings (which have mostly taken place in the USA) have brought him a large number of international prizes and honours. His repertoire includes a selection of the most important works from the Classical and Romantic periods as well as a number of compositions by contemporary composers.
This selection received a Grammy nomination for "Best Classical Album" and "Best Instrumental Soloist Performance (without Orchestra)." The comparative simplicity of Chopin's Op. 28 Preludes (when placed against his Etudes, for example) and their status as "miniatures" often hide the fact that they are, in fact, extremely demanding pieces, especially in interpretation. These works, probably written in homage to Johann Sebastian Bach's 'Well-Tempered Clavier,' have been the eminent domain of such great pianists as Artur Rubinstein, Vladimir Horowitz and Claudio Arrau. The Preludes now belong to young Evgeny Kissin.
Almost four hours of music constitutes exceptional value especially when, tucked away among a selection of Mazurkas, is Chopin's early "Variations on a German National Air". Vásáry charms you into wondering why it is so rarely heard.
In the third of three new landmark albums on the Decca label, Nelson Freire marks his 70th birthday year with a stunning recording of Chopin’s lyrical and brilliant Piano Concerto No. 2. The recording was made in Cologne with the Gurzenich-Orchester Koln and Lionel Bringuier, one of the most talked-about of the younger generation of conductors. The release also features some favorite Chopin solo works including a Ballade, Berceuse, Polonaise and three Mazurkas.
"Arrau's Chopin – now available in a six-CD box (Philips 432 303-2) as part of Philips's Arrau Edition – is as far from moonstruck "sentimentality" as any Chopin ever was. But no performance of the Preludes is more sentimental, in Schiller's sense, than the version Arrau recorded for Philips in 1973. Its premise – that the cycle is a grand tragedy, the darkest thing Chopin wrote – is unmistakable. Even the prefatory C-major Prelude heaves with orgasmic rubatos – more weight, it seems, than the music can possibly bear. And yet, as Arrau packs each small berth with a world of feeling, the weight grips and holds. At times, the sheer density of emotion can seem suffocatingly intense. The Prelude No. 22, a Stygian descent, is surely Hades; the plunging scales of No. 24 rip the thread of life."
…Although little known in the West, never having toured or recorded there, Sofronitsky was held in the highest regard in his native land. Sviatoslav Richter and Emil Gilels looked up to Sofronitsky as their master, and famously, when Sofronitsky once drunkenly proclaimed that Richter was a genius, in return Richter toasted him and proclaimed him a god. Upon hearing of Sofronitsky's death, Gilels was reputed to have said that "the greatest pianist in the world has died."…
The disc is EMI's budget CD, but the performances included here are of highest quality. In fact I've never come across any performances that come so close to Chopin's ideal - the fragile beauty, the shimmering tone colours, the noble poetry and the heart-felt intimacy of Barenboim's playing reminds me of what Chopin's contemporaries described of his pianism. I've got dozens of CDs of 24 Preludes, but this is the one I always come back to for its radiant beauty that only comes from a self-effacing, sincere heart.