Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Music Webmaster Len Mullenger:

Frédéric CHOPIN
Four Ballades: No. 1 in G minor, opus 23; No. 2 in F, opus 38; No. 3 in A flat, opus 47; No. 4 in F minor, opus 52
Four Scherzi: No. 1 in B minor, opus 20; No. 2 inB flat minor, opus 31; No. 3 in C sharp minor, opus 39; No. 4 in E, opus 54
Tarantelle in A flat, opus 43

Artur Rubinstein
Rec 1959 and 1965 (Tarantelle)
RCA Red Seal 09026 63045 2 [74.00]
Crotchet  £8.50  Amazon UK £6.99   Amazon US

Artur Rubinstein was one of the great pianists of the 20th century, and he made his reputation most strongly through his playing of Chopin. Therefore these beautifully remastered recordings from some forty years ago must still rank as a major event in the evolution of the recorded music catalogue.

The sound is clean and realistic, if occasionally a little hard. Apparently this was a problem in the original masters of the Scherzi, and these latest remasterings have largely eliminated it. In every piece on the programme, the articulation of detail is well captured, and this is always an important consideration in Chopin's music. For his ability to turn decorative textures into structural strengths is second to none, if not unique, and truly an example of the art that conceals art. Rubinstein's artistry in this repertoire is matchless, and the attention to detail effortlessly communicates to the listener.

All the Ballades and Scherzi are examples of Chopin's miraculous mature style, with inspiration of the highest order, offering any artist both opportunity and challenge. Rubinstein's choices of tempo, articulation of phrase and attention to technical nuance never fail to bring special revelations to his performances of this music. For the full range of Chopin's artistic personailty can be found in these pieces (rather more, perhaps, than in any other works), to the extent that if a single disc of his music were to recommended, it could safely be this.

The CD is issued in an beautifully produced booklet format. The notes are good, the print is large-sized and there are some interesting photographs. But the disc itself is held tightly in a wallet inside the card cover, which makes it rather hard to remove. Beware damage from greasy fingers.

Terry Barfoot

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