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Chopin: 24 Preludes, Op. 28; Sonata No. 2 "Funeral March"; Polonaise, Op. 53


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Product Details

  • Audio CD (Feb. 22 2000)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sony Music Canada
  • ASIN: B00002DE5F
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #67,520 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. "24 Preludes, Op. 28"
2. "Sonata No. 2, Op. 35, in B-Flat Minor"
3. Prelude No. 1 in C
4. Prelude No. 2 in A Minor
5. Prelude No. 3 in G
6. Prelude No. 4 in E Minor
7. Prelude No. 5 in D
8. Prelude No. 6 in B Minor
9. Prelude No. 7 in A
10. Prelude No. 8 in F-Sharp Minor
11. Prelude No. 9 in E
12. Prelude No. 10 in C-Sharp Minor
13. Prelude No. 11 in B
14. Prelude No. 12 in G-Sharp Minor
15. Prelude No. 13 in F-Sharp
16. Prelude No. 14 in E-Flat Minor
17. Prelude No. 15 in D-Flat
18. Prelude No. 16 in B-Flat Minor
19. Prelude No. 17 in A-Flat
20. Prelude No. 18 in F Minor
See all 31 tracks on this disc

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Format: Audio CD
This is quite simply a great performance of some of Chopin's most beloved pieces! As always Mr. Kissin amaze with his great virtuosity which is unmatched by any of his contemporary colleages. This is also clearly reflected in his interpretation of Chopin's music. Mr. Kissin prefers drama and passion rather than poetry and inner peace. Therefore this recording may not appeal to listeners that prefer the more subtle and pensive interpretations, like those of Cortot and Rubinstein. The weakest part of the recording are the Preludes where Mr. Kissin, in my opinion, misses some major points in several of the slower pieces. For instance no. 7 in A Major which is played much too fast. On the other hand the interpretation of the more brilliant pieces like nos. 16, 18, 22 and 24 are just electrifying! The keystone on this record is the b flat minor Sonata. Mr. Kissin communicates this difficult and dramatic piece in a truely mature, remarkable and convincing way, which is quite amazing considering the pianist's young age! Especially the Marche Funebre is of great beauty. The slow tempo of this movement, which I believe has never been heard before, might seem odd at first, but makes sense as part of a whole. Quite simply breathtaking! It bears comparison with the recordings of Pollini and Rubinstein! I would highly recommend this recording to anyone looking for a new and different approach to one of the greatest piano composers.
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This is perhaps Kissin's finest Chopin CD to date. His incredible pianistic technique and maturity is showcased throughout this CD. The Preludes were played with such amazing ease and emotional maturity that one must listen to them again and again. My favorite Prelude is the fiendishly difficult no.8 in F#-minor (Kissin plays this one which such power and grace). Although Kissin chooses not to repeat the main theme of the 1st movement of Chopin's sonata no.2, his performance is still remarkable. The last mov't with the funeral march was like a lullaby that will put a listener into a wonderful trance. As for the "Heroic Polonaise," Kissin's interpretation is even better than Maurizio Pollini's version. Kissin's playing of this Polonaise is simply AMAZING...full of life and energy. He attacks the highly difficult octaves with such ease. I highly recommend any Chopin-lover to get this CD now!
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Kissin's playing on this album, including Chopin's unparalleled cycle of preludes, is simply mystifying. I found myself in turns wondering at his virtuosity and using that wonder again and again to probe deeper into the music itself.
Kissin skeptics argue too frequently that by virtue of his exploitation of his exceptional talent, he is a musical hack, a showman who rarely finds the 'music' he is attempting to play. I find this argument unconvincing.
Kissin is quite simply the most talented pianist in the world. There is nothing he can't do with those 88 keys. And, yes, he will always remind the listener (or viewer) that there are perhaps a handful of people in the world who can play a particular piece at the tempo and in as many clear, distinct voices as he plays. For instance, I was immediately off-put by his playing of the 'Heroic' Polonaise, op. 53, track #29 on this album; Kissin plays at a roughly 30% higher tempo than any other pianist I have heard. But that is not to say it lacks clarity or reflection (at least as much reflection as was intended by Chopin).
For anyone who has doubts about Kissin's ability to completely reveal all nuances that any composer may have intended in a piece, I strongly recommend listening to Kissin's performance of Liszt's Paganini variation #3 (La Campanella), available only, I believe, on Kissin's 'The Gift of Music' DVD biography. Anyone familiar with the piece and other recordings of it have to be simply weakened at the knees by Kissin's complete domination of the piece, again at a significantly higher tempo than others would dare to attempt.
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What's happened to Kissin's playing lately has made me sad. Oh sure, he's still famous and packs them in, but his playing has become increasingly harsh, ugly and unfeeling. There isn't an ounce of poetry in these Preludes. Banging, yes, and lots of volume, but all the blood, sweat and tears don't produce much *music.* Cortot expended half the energy and got five times the results.
For example, the First Prelude has clumsy and heavy phrasing. It sounded to me like a first year piano student learning how to "feel" the music for the first time, only of course Kissin has more technique than any first year student. The Second prelude bears far too much weight and pathos. Kissin gives it the gravity of the finale of the Tchaikovsky Pathetique Symphony--and it can't really withstand it and turns out distended. (And this from someone who *likes* a player such as Ugorski!) The Third is all speed and no charm, and someone has to teach Kissin what leggieramente means. The Fourth is hampered--as are many including the "Raindrop"--by monotonous rhythmic regularity. Some pianists can really shade and color works like these. Not here. Yet I enjoyed some of Kissin's earlier discs (the Carenegie Hall recitals) so much, compared with this.
The Sonata is much the same, and I won't go into details for danger of repeating myself. Except to say the Funeral March really drives my point home: Kissin bangs hard. He gives you deep, black bass notes. But Rubinstein, with less effort, is more frightening, more about *death.*
The biggest disaster is the unfelt, undramatic encore piece, the famous Polonaise, Op. 53. No charm, no excitement, nothing but lots of loud, steely notes and excessive technique. Yo, Gene, you're not playing the Hammerklavier Sonata here. Virtuosity takes a back seat to expression.
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