7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
This disc, well recorded in 1987, received much critical acclaim when it was first released and has been in my collection ever since. It joins other superlative sets of the Ballades including those by Rubinstein, Ashkenazy, Moravec and Perahia. Other sets have come and gone but all of these remain and give equal satisfaction in their different ways.
Zimerman's way is cooler emotionally than many and there is a degree of dispassionate objectivity about these performances when compared directly with some of those listed above. This actually is very satisfying too as it focusses on the structure of the music relatively unhindered by an emotional overload. It could, of course, be argued that Chopin is all about emotion and that by reducing the emotional focus Zimerman reduces the point of the music. I would beg to disagree.
The reality with all collections is that one is taught to approach masterworks such as these in different ways where, provided the composer's written intentions and instructions are carried out, the music is able to flower in alternatively valid ways. The greater the music and the performers, the more the music is open to alternative approaches.
Without wishing to go into detailed analysis of the five pianists represented here in terms of this music, suffice it to suggest that Ashkenazy is the most passionate in his 1970's recordings and more sensitive in his 1960's remastered recordings, that Perahia is the most emotionally sensitive, Moravec is the most improvisatory, Zimerman is the most brilliant and Rubinstein is the most dispassionate. Other listeners may describe these fine pianists as having alternative characteristics. Read more ›
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