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Chopin: Ballades & Piano Concerto No. 2

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  • Performer: Lise de la Salle
  • Orchestra: Dresden Staatskapelle
  • Conductor: Fabio Luisi
  • Composer: Frederic Chopin
  • Audio CD (13 Sept. 2010)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Naive Sa
  • ASIN: B003FONYO2
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 243,176 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Ballade No. 1 in G minor, op.23
2. Ballade No. 2 in F major, op.38
3. Ballade No. 3 in A flat major, op.47
4. Ballade No. 4 in F minor, op.52
5. Piano concerto No.2 in F minor, op.21 - Maestoso
6. Piano concerto No.2 in F minor, op.21 - Larghetto
7. Piano concerto No.2 in F minor, op.21 - Allegretto vivace

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Robert del Quiaro on 22 July 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
What a marvellous band is the Staatskapelle Dresden. On Lise de la Salle's Facebook page, as I write, is video/audio of her concert performance of the same piano concerto - Chopin No. 2 - with the same conductor, Fabio Luisi. That, however, was recorded in Japan with an orchestra not of the firsr rank. The Dresden ensemble on the CD considered here brings the most out of its role while always serving the soloist's music expertly. The quietest under-pinning by the violins, for instance, is never perfunctory, rather always needling the piano to do its expressive best.
In so trying, de la Salle consistently finds thoughtful ways - through variations of dynamics, tempi and pauses - to evoke the passion of the concerto's genesis. We visit the mind and heart of a young composer of intense sentiments (Chopin was 19 when he began it), smitten into insomnia by his obsession with the singer Konstancja Gladowska. Tobias Niederschlag's well-turned essay in the accompanying booklet makes clear this and other notable facts.
De la Salle is not everywhere credited for the sort of delicatezza that the score of the second movement requests at times, but she acquits herself engagingly, unafraid to convey restlessness yet not overshadowing the bravura work of the first and last movements.
The concerto is but half of the CD's content, which opens with Chopin's four ballades for solo piano. In places, perhaps, urgency is a little overdone by de la Salle, and there might have been more colour offered in some of the forte passages of ballade No. 2. Even so, it's very pleasing to find all four of these ever-inventive pieces on one recording, achieved by a pianist of outstanding strength of mind and skill of hands - plus the f-minor concerto carried off similarly.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By R Hirst on 4 Sept. 2011
Format: Audio CD
I am writing this review in response to the previous reviewer's comments as I wanted to present a different point of view which wasn't unfairly negative.
I have followed Lise's development since her first disc and I have to say she is one of the great modern pianists and rivals any performace by Zimmerman, Richter, Licad etc in her interpretation of Chopin. Whilst her rubato may seem to the unaccustomed as 'self-indulgent', I find that in every phrase Lise draws out an incredible amount of poise, shape and dynamic variation which transcends mere technique and is an absolute joy to listen to. Lise has the rare talent of injecting emotion into every bar of the music, and not just gloss over parts with a flurry of hammered-out notes as other performes tend to do (especially as Richter does in the climax before the code, for example).
The Concerto may not be the most 'masculine' of performances, but then again Chopin himself was known for his lightness of touch, and this delicately written but richly harmonic piece requires the performer to not go hammer and tongs at the piano like a crazed Rachmaninov virtuoso but to let the music itself sing, which Lise does to great effect whilst adding a huge amount of her own emotion into the piece, which I admit may not be to everyone's taste, but if it is to your tast then it is truly divine.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful By pitiscus on 1 Dec. 2012
Format: Audio CD
In the early hours a couple of days ago I heard the 2nd movement of the Piano Concerto no 2 from this disc on Classic FM. It was gruesome. For no good reason it was played at seemingly half the normal tempo. Great to hear all the notes? - No. It was appalling. Avoid.
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4 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Dr Carl on 9 Aug. 2011
Format: Audio CD
I thought that I had heard the least inspiring version of both Chopin's piano concertos in Lang Lang's highly idiosyncratic and anxiety-riven performances. I must say, however, that I found Lise de la Salle's version of the Second Concerto just about unbearable - this is surely the most self-indulgent, sugary, and sentimental Chopin that you are likely to get - it takes us to those now forgotten days of Chopin as salon composer, which the great Rubinstein, Richter and Pollini did so much to discredit. The tempo is pulled and pushed in every musical phrase, the kind of rubato that gives Chopin a a bad name and which used to be practiced by my great aunts in the early parts of the 20th century. I just cannot understand how piano companies these days can promote this type of rubbish, except that the image of an attractive and dreamy young woman on the cover may attract the innocent and unwary. That a great orchestra should be enticed to participate in this venture is something I find equally objectionable, when there are great pianists who are languishing forgotten. I am writing this listening to to Richter's version of the F minor concerto on Melodyia with the USSR SYmphony Orchestra under Svetlanov, a 1966 performance - now, there you have a musical experience to sweep you off your feet! If you want a more recent performace you will not go wrong with the later Zimerman or, for a more 'masculine' experience, Argerich. If, however, you can find the Richter performance, you will be in for a treat.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 8 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
*** 1/2 Appealing Chopin from a young talent who needs to mature 29 Sept. 2010
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
By the nature of the business, the music industry wants to push the reset button every few years, hoping to entice new buyers. This is a legitimate incentive so far as commerce goes, but it's a bit problematic artistically. The catalog is stuffed to bursting with great Chopin recitals, and yet young artists need an outlet, too. In the case of Lise de la Salle, whose previous recordings are known to me, I don't know what standard to hold her to. In the light of Cortot, Rubinstein, Pollini, Ax, Kissin, and many others, her four Balaldes are pleasant and low-key but not competitive. She has a lovely tone -- and the piano she is playing sounds warm and rich -- which may be enough to entice some listeners, especially newcomers, who find her youthful image appealing. (The cover photo would work in a perfume or lingerie ad just as well.)

The good news is that we aren't talking about someone without artistic ability and fine technique. But de la Salle hasn't pulled the Ballades together into a whole interpretation. There are fine passages and even stretches of a few minutes. She's never gauche; her emotional connection can be genuinely felt. I would say that the overall arc of the G minor Ballade is well handled, in fact. The young Grimaud and Kissin showed more personality, however, and I am brought up short by such things as the opening of the f major Ballade, which shouldn't be such a softy-spoken lullaby. De la Salle tends here ad other places to let the rhythm and pacing go slack, or lazy. The A-flat major Ballade begins quite shapelessly. finally the set ends with the tricky F minor Ballade, where the pianist's telegraphed hesitations and drops into studied melancholy simply aren't the product of a mind that has matured musically, not yet, at least.

In the Second Piano Cto. de la Salle has the benefit of being accompanied by the superb Staatskapelle Dresden under Luisi's sensitive leadership, but this is music that requires charisma and showmanship, because the piano is eighty percent of the whole work. She certainly holds the stage with confidence and big tone. As before, there is no vulgarity or gauchness. But the playing is very generalized, no more than pleasantly appealing.

Naive has every right to make a star out of a 22-year-old French pianist who gave her first recital at the age of nine, but I hope de la Salle stays afloat long enough to really develop her obvious gifts.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The Chopin I've waited for years 21 Jan. 2013
By Hector Gutierrez - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I have loved Chopin's music all my life. Most of the outstanding Chopin recordings were done decades ago, and sound quality leaves much to be desired. Some wonderful recordings (Cortot, Samson Francois) are just so scratchy and painful to hear due to poor recording technology ! I have been waiting for several years until Chopin's works are recorded again, with all the advantages of modern recording technology, but also with the advanced technique, extreme good taste, and careful balance between technique and passion that is needed to bring Chopin's music to life.
Lise de la Salle is one of the very few artists of the new generation that fulfills my long waiting. Her playing is exquisite - she has all that is needed: impeccable technique, delicate taste, the perfect balance of passion, strength, delicacy, and technical talent. Her playing is thoughtful and delicate, yet full of life. She has both her heart and her head on the right place. She has both the talent and an impeccable technique.
This version of the 4 ballades is the one I've been waiting for so many years - I have no other way to describe it. I have four versions of the ballades (Pollini, Perahia, Francois, Rubinstein) and nothing comes close (the Samson Francois 1955 version is excellent - but the recording is so poorly done!). Lise de la Salle's version is the one I will hear again and again for years to come.
Several of the reviews received here by this recording are baffling to say the least - and some comments are down right arrogant and absurd. It's not worth going point by point over the high- brow gibberish of these arm chair critics, but there is an important issue that's worth further exploring, that of Chopin's tempo and execution.
Clearly, there was a time in the early 20th century where many pianists abused Chopin, and played it with a self indulgent, sugary, and affected sense of tempo and execution. It was a shame. This brought a need for revision, and the generation of Pollini, Rubinstein, Richter, etc, made a just and necessary effort to introduce strict execution of Chopin's music: strictly respecting what was written, and using a strict sense of tempo. This was a necessary reaction.
Unfortunately this school of thought took things too far, as it's usually the case. Think of Pollini's version of the four ballades: technically perfect, yet cold as nails. Ultimately, boring.
Chopin's music is poetry. Bringing it to life requires strict technique and tempo, but it also needs some life coming from the interpreter to really shine. This was abused in the past but perhaps the new generations are ready to see Chopin in its true light: respect for the score and the tempo are essential, but technique should ultimately be at the service of the work of art AND NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND. Technique for it's own sake is empty. One has to have the courage today to play Chopin with respect for the score, yet with a sincere and respectful intention to interpret the feelings, the intangibles that cannot be written, and bring the music to life. As with poetry, some readings will be affected, some will be cold, and some will ring true. From this perspective Ms. de La Salle has made an exquisite reading of the four ballades. As another reviewer commented: "When a performer possesses a beautiful mind, one can revel in their -in a manner of speaking- indulging themselves. "
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Late One Night 9 Oct. 2010
By Jack A. Herring - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I have always said lise de la salle is one of the young pianist to keep an eye and ear on. A very talented young lady however this album reminds me of my own playing at 4:00 in the morning, almost falling asleep at the fermatas. I believe each piece of music has a life of it's own. If you play it to quickly it's life is over too soon and if you play it too slowly it outlives itself. Her tempo through out this CD is a bit on the slow side as if she did indeed record this at 4:00 in the morning. Still she does some nice playing and by all means worth a listen.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Très Bon 14 July 2012
By Mark Hunter - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The tempos in these performances were just fine and the concerto and 3rd Ballade were standout beautiful. I wouldn't want Lise de la Salle to change anything.

Some of the other reviews here are painful to read, one downright nasty, the author of which must either be off Chopin's wavelength or suffer from some other defect.

Lise de la Salle is the best of individualists. When a performer possesses a beautiful mind, I revel in their--in a manner of speaking--indulging themselves.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Convincing Chopin 15 Nov. 2010
By Warren Harris - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Initially, I did not respond positively to this disc. The tempos seemed painfully slow in all but the Piano Concerto, for which I gave Fabio Luisi (Conductor) high marks. But today I reached for this recording and found something in it that is valuable - a sense of emotion (albeit just a touch slow) and depth of feeling that was not readily apparent at first. Ballade No. 1 in g minor, Op. 23, is tenderly and peacefully played (where appropriate), but forceful and decisive elsewhere. Ballade No. 2 in F Major, Op. 38, is frustrated and energetic, ending resigned, and this one feels just right. Ballade No. 3 in A Flat Major, Op. 47, is gentile and peaceful becoming more decisive and authoritative before a sense of calm playfulness returns. Ballade No. 4 in f minor, Op. 52 is powerfully played, forceful and full, but with a graceful touch too that is captivating and evocative.

As for Piano Concerto No. 2, it is well played and again Fabio Luisi does a marvelous job balancing the musical needs of Ms. de la Salle and the Staatskapelle Dresden. Chopin's piano writing sings and the other instruments dance around it and interact with it (I particularly liked the bassoon interplay in the 1st movement). The 2nd movement warm and wounded, tentative and confident - yes, these sound somewhat contradictory, but they feel right when you listen to it. The 3rd and final movement starts with sweeping notes dancing across the keyboard, and finishes with the piano playing the part of playful small boy and the orchestra accompanying with proud, positive sounding music. This is not a disc that I would reach for all of the time, but when I'm perhaps a touch melancholy or tired this performance may be just what the doctor ordered.
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