Chopin's two piano concertos have long been admired more as pianistic vehicles than as integrated works for piano and orchestra. But in his revelatory new recording, Krystian Zimerman suggests otherwise: The opening orchestral tuttis have so much more light, shade, orchestral color, and detail, you wonder if they've been rewritten. Every gesture, every instrumental solo is so specifically characterized that by the time the piano makes a dramatic entrance, the pieces have become operas without words.
Maria João Pires “shapes and colours every phrase, and with immaculate taste, and she makes sure the phrases end as eloquently as they begin,” wrote Gramophone in 1974. “She conveys not just the details but the relevance of every note to the whole … Best of all, she communicates everything she has discovered about the music, and it is worth having.” This Portuguese pupil of Wilhelm Kempff, Pires was one of the artists who defined the Erato label in the 1970s and 1980s. This 5-CD box gathers together the recordings she made over the period from 1976 to 1985 and it reflects the consistent focus of her repertoire, with its special emphasis on Austro-German composers of the Classical and early-Romantic periods. Embracing solo works, piano duets and concertos, it contains works by Mozart, Schumann, Beethoven, but also by Bach and Chopin.
I’ve had this Robert Schumann compilation from Brazilian pianist Guiomar Novaes for a half year now and keep coming back to it, always with the pleasure. Novaes presents balanced interpretations of some famous Schuman compositions; there’s nothing adventurous or idiosyncratic about her approach but they are musical and very winning.
Probably my two favorites performances are of the Papillons waltzes, Schumann’s Op. 2, and the big and beautiful Symphonic Variations. Novaes’ Papillons are charming and light without being lightweight. A heavier composition, the Symphonic Variations elicit an emotional reading from Novaes.
Uzbek-born pianist Anna Malikova is best known for her interpretations of music by Chopin. She has performed and recorded both concertos, the complete etudes, preludes, and impromptus, and numerous individual solo works. But Malikova is hardly a specialist: she plays a wide range of compositions, taking in large segments of the outputs of J.S. Bach, Soler, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Liszt, Saint-Saëns, Rachmaninov, Prokofiev, and Shostakovich. She has toured extensively throughout Europe, Asia, Australia, and South America, and has performed with many of the world's leading ensembles, including the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, and the major orchestras of Warsaw, Moscow, Sydney, Oslo, Tashkent, and others.
Guiomar Novaes was a notable pianist. Her style was characterized for a sense of the tonal color as few pianist have been able to have it. This recording is fundamental for you , because the Grieg Concert is played with majesty and avoiding the inherent sentimentalism in which the most of the pianists fail. She knew how to get the involving sound , avoiding the excess of sensibility so typical of the romanticism movement. She turns the melody in a sugerent and impresionist portrait, giving a natural gaze not a picture museum gaze. That is why her Mendelssohn's songs without words have no equal rivals. Try to find it.
Samson François was a pianist of mercurial brilliance and mesmeric charisma, capable of extraordinary poetry. The sense of spontaneity in his playing could at times become wilful, even provocative, but he never ceases to exercise his fascination on the listener. Chopin’s music was of essential importance to him, and here he performs both the composer’s piano concertos.