- Audio CD (Jan 2 1998)
- Number of Discs: 2
- Label: Nonesuch
- ASIN: B000005J03
- Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #10,232 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
|1. B Flat Minor, Op. 9, No. 1|
|2. E Flat Major, Op. 9, No. 2|
|3. B Major, Op. 9, No. 3|
|4. F Major, Op. 15, No. 2|
|5. F Sharp Major, Op. 15, No. 2|
|6. G Minor, Op. 15, No. 3|
|7. C Sharp Minor, Op. 27, No. 1|
|8. D Flat Major, Op. 27, No. 2|
|9. B Major, Op. 32, No.1|
|10. A Flat Major, Op. 32, No. 2|
|1. A Flat Major, Op. 32, No. 2|
|2. G Major, Op. 37, No. 2|
|3. C Minor, Op. 48, No. 1|
|4. F Sharp Minor, Op. 48, No. 2|
|5. F Sharp Minor, Op. 48, No. 2|
|6. E Flat Major, Op. 55, No. 2|
|7. B Major, Op. 62, No. 1|
|8. E Major, Op. 62, No. 2|
|9. E Minor, Op. 72, No. 1|
Recently I have gone through most of these noctures played by Rubinstein, Arrau, Moravec and Cortot. The latter belongs to another category, for he had the greatest link with Chopin. Even in term of time or chronology, they were close. And despite numnerous attack on his "wrong notes" and liberal rubatos, he is irreplacable and insurpassable in many ways. The main hurdle lies with the primitive recording. And for obvious reasons, I would only recommend him to the more advanced pianists, and he recorded only six of them only.
As to the rest, we have some nice modern recordings. For Rubinstein, the "luckiest man" in the music world, I have yet to spend more time on him to feel his agony in these pieces--although his Polonaise is great. And yet in tempi as well as the overall way of playing (to some modern ears, there is a degree of playfuless), I suspect he was closest to Chopin amongst the three. From the earliest recorded heritage, particularly all those directly or indirectly having a connection with Chopin, like Moriz Rosenthal and Horszowki or even Cortot, or else the Lizst pupils, Dohnanyi, Hofmann, Freidmann Rachmaninov,Bartok, Backhaus... none of them played as tight and rigid as Horowitz, Richter, Gilels, or Pletnev or the Modern Russian school as a whole, not to mention Kissin.
So, in that sense, even Arrau's approach would be too modern, too structuralistic for Chopin. As for Moravec, the extent of his rubatos even exceeded that of Arrau. The fact is both have a most beautiful piano sound, particularly Arrau, the latter a bit more powerful. But back in Chopin's time, their recitals were essentially saloon music, meant for a few hundred audience at most. So Moravec's comparative softness is justified. But on the other hand, facing a modern audience of a thousand or more and equipped with a much more powerful modern piano, a heavier handed approach is also understandable or even desirable.
Coming to mannerism, undoubtedly Arrau could abnegate himself more: he has the widest possible repertoire and he excelled in most of them. Even talking about music, things like rhythm, phrasing, structure and drama etc, sure, it's matter of taste, and taste would sure change as we mature and in response to the changes in the macro-world. At the moment I still more attracted to Arrau as far as "despair" and "agony" are concerned, well, perhaps even the cantabile tone or the sense of drama as a whole... When I was younger, there was a time I preferred Moravec and I found Arrau too heavy-handed and his rubatos not quite up to the mark ( still so for Cortot's fans I believe). Now I have no hesitation in recommending him to pianists of all level and to all music lovers. Likewise I would also recommend Moravec's Nocturnes to them: they still stand as one of the top choices for these peices in any event. Very worthwhile to see what enjoyment and inspirations they will bring you. Highly recommended.