> Frederic Chopin - Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2 [CF]: Classical CD Reviews- Nov 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Frederic CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor Op. 11

Allegro maestoso; Romanza - Larghetto; Rondo - Vivace
Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor Op. 21

Allegro maestoso; Larghetto; Allegro vivace
Martino Tirimo (piano)
Philharmonia Orchestra/Fedor Glushchenko
Recorded in All Saints, Petersham June 1994
REGIS RRC1096 [76. 07]


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Both concertos date from around 1830, and how amazingly unlike Beethovenís Emperor they are. Piano writing was advancing in leaps and bounds, diversifying in all directions as the instrument itself developed in terms of its technology. Chopinís two concertos, together with the Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise, have a reputation for shallow sparkle and turgid orchestration but both descriptions are wholly inappropriate, especially when they are in the hands of sensitive, informed performers. They have an endless stream of inventive melody, lyric emotion and lithe energy, while such devices as col legno (using the wooden part of the bow to strike the violinsí strings rather than the hair to draw the sound) must represent, along with Berlioz in his Symphonie fantastique from exactly this same period of 1830, an early departure from the conventional approach. Then thereís the Polish dance (the Krakowiak in the finale of the first concerto) to catch the spirit and rhythm of Chopinís homeland, which he left for good at this time.

This is a very fine recording. Tirimo, who already comes with an excellent reputation in Schubert playing, brings his translucent technique to these vivid accounts. What particularly strikes one is the partnership between soloist and orchestra in what are frankly purely vehicles for a virtuoso to strut his or her stuff while the orchestra takes on the role of an also-ran. Not so here. The Philharmonia are in glowing form under Glushchenko, fabulous horn and bassoon solos, warm string tone and immaculate accompaniment while Tirimo meanders through the filigree forests of embellishment so typical of Chopinís piano writing. Quite the finest playing since Vlado Perlemuter, whose recently announced death at 98 robs us of one of the great Chopin exponents, and definitely one for the shelves.

Christopher Fifield

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