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Solo Piano Works Box set

4.8 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 24 1997)
  • Number of Discs: 13
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: Decca - Universal Special Imports
  • ASIN: B0000041KB
  • Other Editions: Audio CD
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #48,850 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

Chopin: The Piano Works

Customer Reviews

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Format: Audio CD
I have listened to the works of a number of composers, but Chopin always stands out with his remarkable ability to translate raw human emotion into musical tones from the piano. In my opinion, what other composers might have sought to accomplish with the variety of voices in the orchestra, Chopin was able to do with one instrument. To replicate this is no easy task, and Ashkenazy does a fantastic job in this set of CDs.
The music of Chopin contains so much pure poetic beauty, but I think his true genius comes through in pieces written in the minor keys. Chopin was a truly great blues composer of his time. I suppose that the most common vehicle for expressing "blues" or "tragedy" in that era was the opera. But Chopin could accomplish it without the need for words. He knew how to express human pain and angst. Take the Nocturne in E minor, for example (Opus 72 #1). If you can appreciate the blues, then I'm sure you'd have no trouble hearing the pathos in that piece played by Ashkenazy. To understand, appreciate, and especially to play the blues, one must be able to feel the blues. And again, to express this musically is no easy task. For the piano, it requires subtle technique with dynamics and license in meter (which Chopin was occasionally criticized for) to truly translate the emotion. Ashkenazy does this quite well.
I'm no expert in judging the electronic quality of a recorded CD, but I detected no flaws in that respect. I am an appreciator of the music. And in that light, I definitely recommend this CD set.
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Format: Audio CD
Vladimir Ashkenazy's technique and performance on the piano is absolutely the finest and most unriveled. He has done Frederic Chopin justice. All of his works, including the more famouse ones, are collected in a stylish, glorious cd. If you are a true and hardcore fan of Chopin's piano music, then this is the cd for you. Here are his masterpieces for the piano, interpreted to perfection by the pianist Ashkenazy. There are many who argue that there are other pianists who can do a good Chopin piece. This is true. But Ashkenazy gives a terrific performance. The great works are here- the waltzes, the etudes, the nocturnes, mazurkas, ballades, polonnaises and sonatas. The "Minute Waltz" you will find no greater rendition, "the Military Polonnaise" the beautifully romantic Nocturne No. 2 in E flat opus 9, a beautiful musical depiction of the Seine river in Paris and of course the Sonata no. 2 in B flat minor, the famous "Funeral March" whose third movement is the highlight- that ominous, dark passage in minor key followed by a breathtaking and beautiful pianissimo change from fortissimo. It is to me, a piece describing a death, followed by the hope of heaven, or peace, then a return to the inevitable death theme. Chopin's piano music revolutionized romantic works for piano, and together with Franz Lizst created a movement that would be followed by other geniuses of the instrument. A must have for fans of piano and Romanticism
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Format: Audio CD
First of all, I would like to state that I believe Vladimir Ashkenazy is the premier Chopin interpreter, and I own--or have listened to--virtually all the music collected in this set. And while I think that this CD collection is the genuine Chopin article, there are some areas where, sadly, Ashkenazy comes up short.
To start with, those mediums that are Ashkenazy's and no one else's: Nocturnes, Polonaises, Mazurkas, Ballades, Scherzos, Waltzes.
I've heard various recordings of the Nocturnes, mostly by Rubinstein (who I've never enjoyed, really), but nobody can light a candle to Ashkenazy's emotionally-gripping Nocturnes, for every one of these gentle mood pieces will reach into you and gently caress your reflective soul. The Polonaises, under Ashkenazy, resound like the echos of cannon-fire, played (attacked?) with battering-ram force. I almost shiver under the power of the Op. 44 Polonaise! The Polonaise-Fantasie, every time I listen to it, throws me into an unbelievable world of mystery and wonder because, like the Third Sonata, this has to express some of the most sincere human emotions I've ever found in music; it searches for meaning through deep introspection, swimming through the mysteries of the human psyche. The Ballades, Scherzos, and Waltzes come through with never-before-seen grandeur, never leaving any room for you to question its worth or its power.
Now, those mediums which are best found through other pianists: Preludes, Etudes, Sonatas, and select miscellaneous works by Chopin.
For the Preludes, Etudes, and Sonatas, I strongly recommend Maurizio Pollini. Ashkenazy's Etudes, I'm sorry to say, I found utterly deplorable.
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Format: Audio CD
If one uses the word "artist" in the strictest, highest sense, Ashkenazy is that - an artist above most artists. Some performers specialize, and they record the complete piano works of Beethoven, or Mozart, etc. What a marvelous feat. Ashkenazy, however, has gone a long way toward recording the complete works for piano! One might think the man is a machine, but he is not. Every recording of his is a truly new, quite original approach, and his readings always make wonderful sense. Ashkenazy never uses his lightning, ultra-precise technique to show what he can do, but he will use it aplenty if he must (the Rachmaninoff Etude Tableaux), but in many pieces where performers zip through a passage, Ashkenazy will sometimes play that passsage slower than we've ever heard. For him, the music, the artistry of a work is the goal. I have only one question. Why did the producer (and the artist) use that piano in the Chopin Etudes! The instrument's hammers are in dire need of voicing (very metallic), and it's out of tune. In the "Winter Wind" introduction, for example, the sound is painful. The playing of the etudes (one of the pillars of the piano repertoire) is superior to all other recordings. It just seemed so strange that the piano's poor condition would be overlooked. Ashkenazy is one of a small group of transcendent pianists of the last 150 years. There have not been many like him. Hopefully he will keep playing for a long, long time.
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