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CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS

Frédéric François CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Complete Piano Works
Pianists: Alwin Bär; Alessandra Ammara; Cor De Groot; Bella Davidovich; Misha Dichter; Sergio Fiorentino; Emil Gilels; Adam Harasiewicz; Evgeny Kissin; Zoltan Kocsis; Frank Van De Laar; Louis Lortie; Marian Mika; Arthur Moreira; Folke Nauta; Fred Oldenburg
rec. 1949-2008. ADD/DDD
Full track listing at end of review
BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94089 [15 CDs: c.16:00:00]

Experience Classicsonline
Brilliant Classics have been prominent in the major boxed set niche since the early 2000s and can be said to have shaken up the market. They single-handedly introduced the card sleeve and the clamshell wallet although their early sets simply slip-boxed individual jewel cases. They frequently ring the changes on their sets of music by the ‘Great Composers’. Over the years they have had various big Chopin sets. In 2002 the much-missed Gwyn Parry-Jones reviewed a 13 CD set (99802) of the solo piano music exclusively featuring Dutch or Dutch-based pianists. Gwyn welcomed it as unbelievable value. His review is worth consulting as that set shares a smattering of discs with this one: de Groote, Moreira, Oldenburg, Bär, Nauta and Van de Laar. The present box was issued last year to coincide with Chopin 200. In addition there is a Brilliant 30 CD Wallet and CD-ROM (93217) including some of the discs in 94089 with Kissin, Bär, Cortot, Davidovich, Gilels, Kocsis, Lipatti, Lortie and Rubinstein. But then to thicken the soup you will come across a 17 CD set (93202) of the complete works for piano with Davidovich, Gilels, Kocsis and others. The two concertos are there from Kissin and the Moscow Philharmonic and the other concertante works from Davidovich and the London Symphony Orchestra under Marriner. The Chopin songs are represented by soprano Anna Haase. In short the various sets overlap and differ in varying degrees.

My approach has been to sample rather lightly and here are my impressions. Davidovich’s Ballade No. 3 is more stately than usual with flashes of drama. Lortie’s exhilarating way with the speedier Etudes contrasts with Davidovich’s aristocratic grande dame ways. Lortie’s Chandos-originated sound is splendid as is that for Kocsis on CD 6 in the virtuoso waltzes. I did however wonder whether Kocsis was rather scouting over the gentler aspects of these works. On CDs 3 and 4 we encounter a name I had all but forgotten from the 1960s, Adam Harasiewicz (b. 1932). These recordings of the Nocturnes from 1960s carry a light burden of analogue hiss but more to the point Harasiewicz plays with dignified reserve and admirable eloquence. It was good to make his acquaintance again and Brilliant did well to take up this licensing offer. Bär essays the Scherzos with coruscating confidence. Cor de Groote’s 2 CDs of the Mazurkas are delivered mercurially on an 1847 Pleyel with its characteristic slight clanginess – I do not like the sound – you might. I wished for a standard concert grand. The Variations on La Ci Darem La Mano are played by Arthur Moreira with the Sofia Philharmonic conducted by Dimiter Manolov. This otherwise very immediate recording tends to make the piano sound tizzy at the treble end of the span. Folke Nauta seemed rather rigid and inflexible in the Polonaises but the Polonaise-Fantaisie shows a more yielding and tender aspect. Alessandra Ammara and Frank Van De Laar were recorded in 2006 and 1996 respectively evidently to fill in the gaps around other discs. Each pianist does so with distinction and there’s no suggestion of dutiful time-serving. The three sonatas are on CD 11 where we also hear the oldest recording – that with Gilels whose impressively volatile 1949 reading of the Second Sonata is well worth having. Fiorentino’s civilised Third Sonata was recorded in 1994 and Fred Oldenburg can be heard in the dramatic First Sonata. On CD 13 Marian Mika mixes Mazurkas with a miscellany of other shorter pieces. Her way with the Mazurka op. 67 no. 4 is sensitive indeed and romantically fragile. Davidovich returns on CD 14 for the swirling and pensive Preludes. In No. 4 in E minor she is wonderfully restrained and this in turn sustains the quiet tension of the piece. The live 1984 piano concerto recordings from Kissin in Moscow are far from refined in sound; this despite their 1984 vintage. That said no one can claim that they are not vivid. The picture is further completed by an audience with no hang-ups about coughs and sneezes. Kissin’s readings are witty and not short on theatrical rhetoric.

The booklet provides profiles of the pianists but nothing about the music; not that the internet is short of references and background when it comes to Chopin. He is the easiest of composers to read up in libraries and to find in shops.

This set has been magpied together. That’s true but the results do no disservice to Chopin or to your ears; quite the contrary. There is much here that you will feel the need to return to and the price is very attractive.

Rob Barnett

Full track listing
CD 1
Ballades Impromptus
1. Ballade No. 1 in G minor Op. 23 10:06
2. Ballade No. 2 in F major Op. 38 7:47
3. Ballade No. 3 in A flat major Op. 47 7:42
4. Ballade No. 4 in F minor Op. 52 11:52
5. Impromptu in A flat major Op. 29 3:59
6. Impromptu in F sharp Major Op. 36 6:02
7. Impromptu in G flat major Op. 51 5:44
8. Fantaisie-Impromptu in C sharp minor Op. 66 5:05
Total: 58:25
Bella Davidovich, Piano

CD 2
Études
12 Études Op. 10 (A son ami Franz Liszt)
1. No. 1 in C major, Allegro 1:55
2. No. 2 in A minor, Allegro 1:19
3. No. 3 in E major, Lento ma non troppo 4:26
4. No. 4 in C sharp Minor, presto 2:05
5. No. 5 in G flat major, vivace 1:39
6. No. 6 in E flat minor, andante con molto espressione 4:01
7. No. 7 in C major, vivace 1:29
8. No. 8 in F major, allegro 2:19
9. No. 9 in F minor, allegro molto agitato 2:07
10. No. 10 in A flat major, vivace assai 2:04
11. No. 11 in F flat major, allegretto 2:15
12. No. 12 in C minor, allegro con fuoco 2:43
12 Études Op. 25 ( A Madame La Comtesse D'Agoult)
13. No. 1 in A flat major, allegro sostenuto 2:35
14. No. 2 in F minor, presto 1:34
15. No. 3 in F major, allegro 1:44
16. No. 4 in A minor, agitato 1:33
17. No. 5 in E minor, vivace 3:21
18. No. 6 in G sharp minor, allegro 2:04
19. No. 7 in C sharp minor, lento 6:12
20. No. 8 in D flat major, vivace assai 1:06
21. No. 9 in G flat major, allegro assai 0:57
22. No. 10 in B minor, allegro con fuoco 4:38
23. No. 11 in A minor, allegro con brio 3:39
24. No. 12 in C minor, allegro molto con fuoco 2:31
Trois nouvelles Études, composée pour la Méthode de Moscheles et Fétis
25. No. 1 in F minor, andantino 2:13
26. No. 2 in D flat major, allegretto 1:43
27. No. 3 In A flat major, allegretto 2:05
Total: 67:21
Louis Lortie, Piano

CD 3
Nocturnes Vol. 1
1. Nocturne in B flat minor Op. 9/1 5:22
2. Nocturne in E flat major Op. 9/2 4:47
3. Nocturne in B major Op. 9/3 5:44
4. Nocturne in F major Op. 15/1 4:08
5. Nocturne in F sharp major Op. 15/2 3:28
6. Nocturne in G minor Op. 15/3 4:52
7. Nocturne in C sharp minor Op. 27/1 4:40
8. Nocturne in D flat major Op. 27/2 5:07
9. Nocturne in B major Op. 32/1 4:31
Total: 42:39
Adam Harasiewicz, piano

CD 4
Nocturnes Vol. 2
1. Nocturne in A flat major Op. 32/2 4:44
2. Nocturne in G minor Op. 37/1 5:37
3. Nocturne in G major Op. 37/2 4:56
4. Nocturne in C minor Op. 48/1 5:23
5. Nocturne in F Sharp minor Op. 48/2 6:07
6. Nocturne in F minor Op. 55/1 4:52
7. Nocturne in E flat major Op. 55/2 4:24
8. Nocturne in B major Op. 62/1 5:47
9. Nocturne in E major Op. 62/2 4:48
10. Nocturne in E minor Op. 72/1 4:21
11. Nocturne in C sharp minor Op. Posth. 3:46
12. Nocturne in C minor Op. Posth 2:56
13. Prelude in C sharp minor Op. 45 4:04
Total: 61:45
Adam Harasiewicz, piano

CD 5
Scherzi, Fantasie, Barcarolle, Berceuse
1. Scherzo No. 1 in B minor Op. 20 9:20
2. Scherzo No. 2 in B flat minor Op. 31 9:56
3. Scherzo No. 3 in C sharp in C sharp minor Op. 39 7:03
4. Scherzo No. 4 in E Major Op. 54 10:41
5. Fantasy in F minor Op. 49 13:15
6. Berceuse in D flat major Op. 57 5:11
7. Barcarolle in F sharp major Op. 60 7:47
Total: 63:11
Alwin Bär, piano

CD 6
Waltzes
1. Waltz in E flat major Op. 18 "Grande Valse Brillante" 4:52
2. Waltz in A flat major Op. 34/1 "Valse Brillante" 5:03
3. Waltz in A minor Op. 34/2 5:31
4. Waltz in F major Op. 34/3 "Valse Brillante" 2:07
5. Waltz in A flat major Op. 42 "Grande Valse" 3:27
6. Waltz in D flat major Op. 64/1 "Minute" 1:35
7. Waltz in C sharp minor Op. 64/2 3:00
8. Waltz in A flat major Op. 64/3 2:37
9. Waltz in A flat major Op. 69/1 3:33
10. Waltz in F minor Op. 69/2 2:51
11. Waltz in G flat major Op. 70/1 1:39
12. Waltz in F minor Op. 70/2 1:33
13. Waltz in D flat major Op. 70/3 2:31
14. Waltz in A flat major 1:13
15. Waltz in E major 2:00
16. Waltz in E minor 2:51
17. Waltz in A minor 1:37
18. Waltz in E flat major 1:12
19. Waltz in E flat major 2:43
Total: 51:55
Zoltán Kacsis, piano

CD 7
Mazurkas Vol. 1
1. Mazurka Op. 6 No. 1 in F sharp minor 2:54
2. Mazurka Op. 6 No. 2 in C sharp minor 2:41
3. Mazurka Op. 6 No. 3 in E major 1:52
4. Mazurka Op. 6 No. 4 in E flat minor 0:52
5. Mazurka Op. 7 No. 1 in B flat major 2:26
6. Mazurka Op. 7 No. 2 in A minor 3:37
7. Mazurka Op. 7 No. 3 in F minor 2:45
8. Mazurka Op. 7 No. 4 in A flat major 1:13
9. Mazurka Op. 7 No. 5 in c major 0:37
10. Mazurka Op. 17 No. 1 in B flat major 2:01
11. Mazurka Op. 17 No. 2 in E minor 2:02
12. Mazurka Op. 17 No. 3 in A flat major 4:28
13. Mazurka Op. 17 No. 4 in A minor 4:25
14. Mazurka Op. 24 No. 1 in G minor 2:58
15. Mazurka Op. 24 No. 2 in C major 2:19
16. Mazurka Op. 24 No. 3 in A flat major 2:28
17. Mazurka Op. 24 No. 4 in B flat minor 4:06
18. Mazurka Op. 30 No. 1 in C minor 1:40
19. Mazurka Op. 30 No. 2 in B minor 1:24
20. Mazurka Op. 30 No. 3 in D flat major 3:00
21. Mazurka Op. 30 No. 4 in C sharp minor 4:08
22. Mazurka Op. 33 No. 1 In G sharp minor 1:38
23. Mazurka Op. 33 No. 2 in D major 2:30
Total: 58:46
Cor de Groot, Piano (Pleyel 1847)

CD 8
Mazurkas Vol. 2
1. Mazurka Op. 33 No. 3 in C major 1:46
2. Mazurka Op. 33 No. 4 in B minor 4:05
3. Mazurka Op. 41 No. 1 in C sharp minor 3:44
4. Mazurka Op. 41 No. 2 in E minor 2:28
5. Mazurka Op. 41 No. 3 in B major 1:10
6. Mazurka Op. 41 No. 4 in A flat major 2:30
7. Mazurka Op. 50 No. 1 in G major 2:45
8. Mazurka Op. 50 No. 2 in A flat major 2:50
9. Mazurka Op. 50 No. 3 in C sharp minor 4:57
10. Mazurka Op. 56 No. 1 in B major 4:12
11. Mazurka Op. 56 No. 2 in C major 1:43
12. Mazurka Op. 56 No. 3 in C minor 5:30
13. Mazurka Op. 59 No. 1 in A minor 3:39
14. Mazurka Op. 59 No. 2 in A flat major 2:46
15. Mazurka Op. 59 No. 3 in F sharp minor 3:31
16. Mazurka Op. 63 No. 1 in B major 2:37
17. Mazurka Op. 63 No. 2 in F minor 1:53
18. Mazurka Op. 63 No. 3 in C sharp minor 2:17
19. Variations on "La Ci Darem La Mano" from Mozart 's Don Giovanni, in B flat major Op. 2 For Piano and 19:04
Total: 73:38
Cor de Groot. piano (Pleyel 1847)
Artur Moreira, piano (19)
Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra, Dimitri Manolov (19)

CD 9
Polonaises Vol. 1
1. Andante Spianato Et Grande Polonaise Brillante Op. 22 in E flat major 14:24
2. Polonaise Op. 26 No. 1 in C Sharp minor 8:24
3. Polonaise Op. 26 No. 2 in E flat minor 9:05
4. Polonaise Op. 40 No. 1 in A major "Military" 5:34
5. Polonaise Op. 40 No. 2 in C minor 8:31
6. Polonaise Op. 44 in F sharp minor 10:54
7. Polonaise Op. 53 in A flat major "Heroic" 7:00
8. Polonaise - Fantasie Op. 61 in A flat major 13:08
Total: 77:14
Folke Nauta, piano

CD 10
Polonaise Vol. 2
3 Polonaises Op. 71
1. Op. 71 No. 1 in D minor 6:26
2. Op. 71 No. 2 in B flat major 8:03
3. Op. 71 No. 3 in F minor 7:03
4. Polonaise KK IIa No. 1 in G minor 2:43
5. Polonaise KK IVa No. 1 in B flat major 2:45
6. Polonaise KK IVa No. 2 in A flat major 3:38
7. Polonaise KK IVa No. 3 in G sharp minor 7:17
8. Polonaise KK IVa No. 5 in B flat Minor 5:38
9. Polonaise KK IVa No. 8 in G flat minor 7:58
10. Bourrée in G major B.160b No. 1 0:42
11. Bourrée in A major B.160b No. 2 0:31
12. Moderato in E major "Feuille d'Album" KK IVb No. 12 1:28
13. Largo in E flat major KK IVb No. 5 2:01
14. Sosenuto in E flat major KK IVb No. 10 1:48
15. Variation No. 6 in "Exameron" Sur La Marche Des Puritains De Bellini KK IIb No. 2 1:34
16. Fuga in A minor KK IVc No. 2 2:30
17. Canon in F minor KK IVc No. 1 (Fragment) 0:42
Total: 65:32
Alessandra Ammara, piano

CD 11
Piano Sonatas
Piano Sonata No. 2 in B flat minor Op. 35
1. Grave - Doppio Movimento 5:35
2. Scherzo 6:38
3. Marche Funebre 9:30
4. Presto 1:13
Piano Sonata No. 3 in B minor Op. 58
5. Allegro Maestoso 9:31
6. Scherzo, Molto Vivace 2:26
7. Largo 10:25
8. Finale, presto non tanto 5:05
Piano Sonata No. 1 in C minor Op. 4
9. Allegro Maestoso 6:38
10. Menuetto 4:44
11. Larghetto 3:38
12. Finale 7:02
3 Écossaise Op. 72/3
13. In D major 0:58
14. In G major 0:43
15. In D flat major 0:43
Total: 74:49
Emil Gilels, piano (1-4)
Sergio Fiorentino, piano (5-8)
Fred Oldenburg, piano (9-15)

CD 12
Rondos, Variations
1. Introduction & Variations on "Je Vends Des Scapulaires" from Hérold's "Ludovic", in B flat major Op. 7:57
2. Rondo in C minor Op. 1 8:44
3. Variations sur un air Nationale Allemand, in E major Op. Posth. 7:48
4. Rondo a la Mazur, in F major Op. 5 9:35
5. Allegro de Concert, Op. 46 13:07
6. Bolero in C major Op. 19 7:57
7. Introduction & Rondo in C minor Op. 16 11:14
8. Tarantella in A flat major Op. 43 3:22
9. Souvenir de Paganini 4:15
Total: 74:35
Frank van de Laar, piano

CD 13
Miscellaneous Works
1. Mazurka No. 43 "Notre Temps" - Allegretto 4:05
4 Mazurkas Op. Posth. 67
2. No. 44 Op. 67 No. 1 - Vivace 1:24
3. No. 45 Op. 67 No. 2 - Cantabile 2:08
4. No. 46 Op. 67 No. 3 - Allegretto 1:55
5. No. 47 Op. 67 No. 4 - Moderato Animato 3:07
4 Mazurkas Op. Ps. 68
6. No. 48 Op. 68 No. 1 - Vivace 1:58
7. No. 49 Op. 68 No. 2 - Lento 3:00
8. No. 50 Op. 68 No. 3 - Allegro Ma Non Troppo 1:40
9. No. 51 Op. 68 No. 4 - Andantino 2:06
10. Mazurka No. 52 - Con Anima 1:25
11. Mazurka No. 53 - Allegro Non Troppo 1:39
12. Mazurka No. 55 - Allegro Non Troppo 1:40
13. Mazurka No. 55 - Allegro Non Troppo 1:49
14. Mazurka No. 56 - Allegretto 1:16
15. Mazurka No. 57 - Vivace 3:46
16. Mazurka No. 58 - (Poco Mosso) 2:36
17. Valse à Mlle Elise Gavard Op. Ps. 70/2 (Original Version) 1:54
18. Valse Op.ps. 70/2 (After Posthumous version J. Fontana) 3:01
19. Marche Funèbre Op. 72./2 (After Posthumous version J. Fontana) 5:48
20. Marche Funèbre Op. 72/2 (After Oxford Edition) 6:05
21. Cantabile (Andantino) 1:10
22. Prélude - A mon ami P. Wolff (Paris 10 Juillet 1834) Brown 86 - Presto con Leggierezza 1:14
Total: 57:42
Marian Mika, piano

CD 14
Preludes / Works for piano and Orchestra
Preludes Op. 28
1. No. 1 in C Major, Agitato 0:33
2. No. 2 in A minor, Lento 2:20
3. No. 3 in G major, Vivace 0:54
4. No. 4 in E minor, Largo 2:23
5. No. 5 in D major, Allegro Molto 0:36
6. No. 6 in B minor, Lento Assai 2:12
7. No. 7 in A major, Andantino 0:52
8. No. 8 in F sharp minor, Molto Agitato 1:44
9. No. 9 in E major, Largo 1:42
10. No. 10 in C sharp minor, Allegro Molto 0:34
11. No. 11 in B major, Vivace 0:42
12. No. 12 in G sharp minor, presto 1:06
13. No. 13 in F sharp major, Lento 3:26
14. No. 14 in E flat minor, allegro 0:36
15. No. 15 in D flat major, Sostenuto 6:09
16. No. 16 in B flat minor, Presto Con Fuoco 1:05
17. No. 17 in A flat Major, Allegretto 3:45
18. No. 18 in F minor, Allegro Molto 1:01
19. No. 19 in E flat major, Vivace 1:13
20. No. 20 in C minor, Largo 1:21
21. No. 21 in B flat major, Cantabile 2:06
22. No. 22 in G minor, Molto Agitato 0:45
23. No. 23 No. 23 in F major, Moderato 1:02
24. No. 24 in D minor, Allegro Appassionato 2:12
25. Fantasia On Polish Airs in A Major Op. 13 13:53
26. Krakowiak in F major Op. 14 14:27
Total: 68:27
Bella Davidovich, piano (1-24,26)
Misha Dichter, piano (25)
Philharmonia Orchestra (25)/Sir Neville Marriner
London Symphony Orchestra (26)/Sir Neville Marriner

CD 15
Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor Op. 11
1. Allegro Maestoso 17:54
2. Romance, Larghetto 8:09
3. Rondo, Vivace 9:03
Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor Op. 21
4. Maestoso 12:51
5. Larghetto 7:33
6. Allegro Vivace 7:35
Total: 63:05
Evgeny Kissin, piano
Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra/Dimitri Kitaenko

 


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