Chopin: Favorites, Mazurkas, Nocturnes, Sonatas, Polynaises, Waltzes

Frederic Chopin - Favorites, Mazurkas, Nocturnes, Sonatas, Polynaises, Waltzes
Vladimir Ashkenazy
Classical | APE (dBPoweramp) | 12CDs/2.62GB | RS.com

Favorite Piano Sonatas (Decca 4448302): "In this recording we hear one of the great piano performers in Vladimir Ashkenazy playing pieces from one of the greatest piano composers in Fryderyk Chopin; with the utmost quality in recorded sound. And if one needs more convincing, you get two hours of music for the price of one cd. Hard to find a better buy in classical music. Moreover, this cd not only looks good on paper, but it also is one of my favorites to listen to. I usually listen to music to help enrich and exonerate an otherwise mundane (computer) task, and I find myself stopping work several times each listen because I'm overcome by the beauty of these pieces, and the both spirited and soulful playing of Ashkenazy. For anyone new to Chopin, I cannot think of a better starting point (no, this double cd does not cover all his great compositions!) than this recording." Todd Ebert

Mazurkas (Decca 4480862): "A wonderful performance of some of Chopin's most poignant compositions. The relatively low profile enjoyed by Chopin's mazurkas, in comparison with his nocturnes, waltzes and preludes, enables them to move the spirit in a manner that is not possible with excessively familiar works - and the mazurkas do move the spirit quite a bit. Get this CD - it will afford you many years of pleasure for less than the cost of two movie tickets." Abiola O. Lapite

Nocturnes (Decca 4525792): "These are great! Ashkenazy is definentley one of the great Chopin interpreters. All of the people who say that Ashkenazy has no emotion in his playing are wrong! Ashkenazy has a beautiful tone in his playing. His interpretations are also great. He is the thinking man's pianist. If you don't understand what I am saying, I am saying that he plays with perfect technique and he thinks the piece through intellegently and he dosen't go for the big flash while playing. This might be one ofthe reasons why people say he is emotionless. He still has emotion even if he dosen't do that thing where you sway while playing and you move way to much (that is a stupid thing to do because it dosen't help and it can hurt your technique while playing). The only person who has played Chopin better than Ashkenazy is Emanuel Ax (I am not saying that Rubinstein and Horowitz etc. are worse than Ashkenazy, they are just as good, but they all are different. Emanuel Ax has the most beautiful tone I have ever heard. Sadly not many Ax recordings exist anymore. Ashkenazy plays the Nocturnes beautifully especially F minor. Chopin plays the Ballades with the same beauty heard in the Nocturnes and (once again) the F minor ballade (no. 4) is one of, if not the best recording I have ever heard. So to summarize Ashkenazy does have a beautiful tone and an intellegent approach to Chopin, so this is a great buy!" Matt Pankratz

Piano Sonatas (Decca 4662502): "Although Ashkenazy has been criticised because of the lack of brilliance in some of his more recent recordings - the Grammy-winning Shostakovich Preludes and Fugues being an exception - these excerpts from the Complete Chopin Edition he recorded for Decca prove otherwise. The three sonatas - some of the best-known pieces by Chopin - are played with the relaxed and intelligent poise that is so often encountered when listening to this wonderfully-talented Russian pianist, the Second Sonata - with its infamous Funeral March - being simply divine. However, the real meat of the CD comes from the two sets of Etudes - these pieces are often played in performance, but very rarely do you hear all of them: on this CD the many different types of technical and musical challenges facing the pianist are played as if they were for children. The musical tempi are all profoundly and musically correct, and the attention to bringing out the harmonic and tonal qualities of the more technically simpler pieces is very evident. Pay especial attention to Op.10 No.4,7,9 and 12; Op.12 No.4,7,9,11 and 12. The Fantaisie, which ends the CD set, is played to near-perfection and it is a fantastic ending to a brilliant Double Decca CD - a real bargain, considering the absolute mastery of the playing and interpretation." Nathan Waddell

Polonaises (Decca 4662502): "Out of all the Chopin interpreters, I think Vladimir Ashkenazy tops them all. I first heard Ashkenazy's Chopin in college when I listened to his recordings of the Nocturnes, and from then on, I've been addicted. Ashkenazy takes each of Chopin's mediums--Nocturnes, Ballades, Polonaises--and gives them each a sense of individuality, a life all of their own. And his interpretations of the Polonaises are utterly unbelievable, as there is such force and such fierce passion behind the music, such a fiery enormity that doesn't waver even for a moment. Under Ashkenazy's skilled hands, the Polonaises virtually come alive. No one could have done them better." A music fan

Waltzes (Decca 4609912): "As with most of Ashkenazy's recordings, the BEAUTY of the music is very evident, with showmanship left on the back burner. Of course, this is very desirable but sometimes a little more bravura might be desired in some pieces. For instance: take the preludes recorded here: they do not match up to the benchmark Martha Argerich recording for Deutsche Grammophone. This is not to say that Ashkenazy's playing is poor, not at all, but it is less spirited and not as imaginative as Argerich's. However, as if to vindicate my faith in Ashkenazy's ability, the Waltzes supplied here are flawless examples of this great pianist at his best: I was first introduced to the Waltzes through the Naxos pianist Idil Biret, and since hearing Ashkenazy perform them have never gone back to that Naxos CD at all. The scherzos are truly brilliant, though I prefer the earlier recording recently released on the Decca: Legends label - they seem to be fresher and somehow more in tune to the spirit of Chopin. However, I cannot criticise this performance too much: it is a superb CD - a welcome treasure for any Ashkenazy/Chopin fan." Nathan Waddell


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