Like other titles in this substantial Decca series, Ultimate Chopin is a box set devoted to recordings drawn from the label's prestigious backlist, designed to give beginners and casual listeners a well-rounded introduction to this Romantic master of piano music. The affordable package of five CDs includes Chopin's two concertos for piano and orchestra, as well as his solo keyboard works, such as the nocturnes, ballades, preludes, impromptus, and waltzes.
Tatiana Shebanova, who also features in the Fryderyk Chopin Institute’s on-going Real Chopin series (see review special, p83), gets her own complete, modern instrument (as opposed to Real Chopin’s historic instruments) cycle on the Polish label Dux. Arranged in opus order, it presents a satisfying survey of Chopin’s development, and it spares the listener from (for example) a lack of variety in the usual hour-long sequence of waltzes.
"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."
The very best of Deutsche Grammophon’s piano recordings on 40 CDs, limited edition. From Aimard (The Art of Fugue) to Zimerman (his prize-winning Debussy Preludes on 1 CD for the first time), comprising all the great names – Argerich, Barenboim, Michelangeli, Gilels, Haskil, Horowitz, Kempff, Kissin, Pogorelich, Pollini, Richter; and the new names – Blechacz, Grimaud, Lang Lang, Trifonov, Yuja Wang, Yundi – this is the ideal set to form the cornerstone of a piano collection.
Claudio Arrau is widely considered by many to be one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century. This collection contains many of Chopin works including the rarely performed pieces for Piano and Orchestra such as Rondo a la krakowiak, Fantasy on Polish Airs and Variations on Mozart's La ci darem la mano. Like most of Arrau's works, the Chopin is played very seriously, at slower tempo, but nevertheless is superb. The Preludes, Nocturnes are recommended the most, but this collection is a must have for any Arrau fan.
EMI Classics is proud to release the complete EMI recordings of one of the most well-known pianists, Samson François. This exclusive 36-CD box set includes all his early recordings that were mainly devoted to Frédéric Chopin. The height of Samson's art is probably to be found in the ballades (recorded between 26 and 28 October 1954, and first issued as an immensely successful 10" LP) and the dazzling interpretation of the nocturnes (recorded in May and June 1966). In the ballades and the nocturnes Samson establishes an allembracing color with the aid of the loud pedal, although he modulates its power and creates a rainbow effect through the highly skilled, yet quite unpredictable use of the soft pedal.
The new recordings of Chopin's works on period instruments allow contemporary listeners to discover the historical models, bringing us closer to the original and to the long-forgotten sound of the Romantic era.