The four Ballades for piano, composed between 1835 and 1842, have a particular status in Chopin's production. As opposed to the "small forms" inspired by dances, they give birth to vast developments of a new, almost revolutionary genre bearing an epic breadth characteristic of the emergence of the Romantic Age. Like his friend Delacroix, who knew how to express the spirit of his times to be heroic in his paintings, Chopin here develops the aesthetic line of the musical story, rich with multiple sparkling colors. The piano Arthur Schoonderwoerd plays is an exact contemporary of the pieces executed and was miraculously conserved in its original state.
Never before have all Arthur Rubinstein albums been available together like this. Arthur Rubinstein – The Complete Album Collection features all of the legendary pianist’s issued recordings made by RCA Victor between 1940 and 1976, plus one recording issued on the DECCA label in 1978. Also included in this set are the recordings Rubinstein made in England for the His Master’s Voice (HMV) label between 1928 and 1940. As a bonus, this special package also has the sensational world-premiere release of two Carnegie Hall concerts recorded on December 8 and 10, 1961.
Sony Classical honors the great Rubinstein’s historic recordings with this brilliant collection that contains some of his finest moments committed to tape.
Passion rather than insouciance is Pires’s keynote. Here is no soft, moonlit option but an intensity and drama that scorn all complacent salon or drawing-room expectations. How she relishes Chopin’s central storms, creating a vivid and spectacular yet unhistrionic contrast with all surrounding serenity or ‘embalmed darkness’. The con fuoco of Op. 15 No. 1 erupts in a fine fury and in the first Nocturne, Op. 9 No. 1, Pires’s sharp observance of Chopin’s appassionato marking comes like a prophecy of the coda’s sudden blaze. Such resolution and psychological awareness make you realize that Chopin, like D. H. Lawrence, may well have thought that “there must be a bit of fear, and a bit of horror in your life”. Chopin, Pires informs us in no uncertain terms, was no sentimentalist.