Chopin's two piano concertos have long been admired more as pianistic vehicles than as integrated works for piano and orchestra. But in his revelatory new recording, Krystian Zimerman suggests otherwise: The opening orchestral tuttis have so much more light, shade, orchestral color, and detail, you wonder if they've been rewritten. Every gesture, every instrumental solo is so specifically characterized that by the time the piano makes a dramatic entrance, the pieces have become operas without words.
Noel Mewton-Wood’s (1922-53) journey from underestimated virtuoso to present-day icon is cause for both celebration and irony. Glowing testimonials to his ‘genius’ (Sir Malcolm Sargent) from Myra Hess, Beecham, Schnabel, Bliss, Hindemith and Britten were countered by indifference from the major record labels and concert managements, a situation that doubtless contributed to his suicide at the age of 31. Behind an ebullient surface, Mewton-Wood was a romantic idealist, susceptible to depression and mood-swings. So it is hardly surprising to find the dichotomy reflected in performances which alternate a luminous poetic delicacy with a rare energy and bravura. [[i]Bryce Morrison, Gramophone, November 2003
It was an eminently sensible decision to couple Zimerman's previously separate Chopin concertos on a single CD. The Ax/Ormandy/RCA disc is the only rival as a coupling, so let me say at once that in different moods I would be equally happy with either. The main difference, I think, is the actual sound. From DG we get a closer, riper sonority, with Zimerman's piano much more forwardly placed. Both orchestra and piano are more distanced on the RCA recording, especially Ax's piano. This, together with Ax's lighter, more translucent semiquaver figuration (and sometimes his greater willingness to stand back and merely accompany—as in certain episodes in the F minor Concerto's finale) often conjures up visions of Chopin himself at the keyboard, and we know he was often criticized for insufficiently strong projection.
This grande dame of the piano world, possessed of an extraordinarily modest, charming personality – focused on the music, devoted to deeply understanding it – has performed three times during the Chopin and His Europe Festival at the invitation of The Fryderyk Chopin Institute. The recordings on this album come from her concerts in 2010 (when she performed the Piano Concerto in F minor op. 21 with the Sinfonia Varsovia orchestra under the baton of Christopher Warren-Green) and 2014 (when she performed a recital including, among other items, the Nocturnes presented here). A presentation of – by nature – completely different interpretations, which nonetheless form an extraordinarily coherent artistic whole. Superb creations displaying the most beautiful side of pianistic art.
In the third of three new landmark albums on the Decca label, Nelson Freire marks his 70th birthday year with a stunning recording of Chopin’s lyrical and brilliant Piano Concerto No. 2. The recording was made in Cologne with the Gurzenich-Orchester Koln and Lionel Bringuier, one of the most talked-about of the younger generation of conductors. The release also features some favorite Chopin solo works including a Ballade, Berceuse, Polonaise and three Mazurkas.
For the 200th anniversary of the birth of Frédéric Chopin, the renowned Ruhr Piano Festival in Essen invited the Staatskapelle Berlin to give a truly special program: the rare combination of Chopin‘s two piano concertos in one concert. For this purpose Daniel Barenboim, the orchestra‘s principal conductor, handed over the reins of „his“ ensemble to up-and-coming young conductor Andris Nelsons, assuming the role of piano soloist instead. The press raved: „Storms of applause for a dream couple: Daniel Barenboim and Andris Nelsons won over the audience […] with their rousing Chopin interpretations“.