Daniel Barenboim personifies ambition, and that applies to his pianism as well as his conducting. One has to admire a talent so all-encompassing that it can play anything, but in tis case, Barenboim is too far out of sync with his chosen composer. This is foursquare, blunt Chopin playing without charm. More often than not the melodic line is tense, and rubato seems applied in an impersonal way. Noting is vulgar or overdone -- God knows I wish it were. The funeral march in the Sonata no. 2 could be following an empty coffin, so little does Barenboim seem to feel, or make us feel. The mercurial finale of the same sonata could be a Czerny exercise.
Knowing the the young Barenboim was the critics' darling at this early stage, 1975, I was curious to see how the Gramophone could possibly love this recording, but even they called it a curate's egg. In a curate's egg there are supposed to be parts that are very good, but except for dropping generic terms like "strong" and "almost too assured," their reviewer clearly knew that Barenboim's Chopin was unsympathetic. Noting improves in the Third Sonata; the great f minor Fantasy rolls off the fingers like a mechanical piano roll; the Barcarolle is landlocked. Not a gem in the Barenboim discography, but that didn't prevent him form going on to record quite a bit more Chopin for DG.