Without a doubt, Zimerman's performances are a triumph of technique and style. I agree with a previous reviewer who noted Zimmerman's superb technique and lyrical playing. Zimmerman isn't quite as flashy as Argerich, yet he gives performances that are as emotionally stirring as hers, without forsaking technique. And I find that his technique is as flawless as Claudio Arrau's, yet Zimmerman plays more warmly than does the late Chilean master. Maybe it's fitting that a Polish pianist gives two of the finest performances of Chopin's main orchestral works, since Zimerman knows exactly when to change the volume of his warm, expressive playing. During his brief tenure with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Carlo Maria Giulini transformed this underrated American orchestra into a world-class ensemble capable of playing as well as its peers in Berlin and Vienna. Here both he and the orchestra are sympathetic accompanists to Zimmerman's exceptional playing, recognizing that Chopin regarded both works as masterpieces for virtuoso pianists such as himself. This is among Deutsche Grammophon's best engineered recordings of the early digital era. Of all the versions of Chopin's concerti available, this is the one that belongs in your collection.
(EDITORIAL NOTE 10/4/10: While I acknowledge Santa Fe Listener's extensive knowledge of music, I have to wonder why he would devote so much time critiquing reviews I wrote a decade earlier. Clearly someone as eminent as him might be willing to forgive my own foibles, especially since he's become a stalwart champion of a rather peculiar freak of nature, the Chinese pianist Lang Lang, whose technical skills at the piano aren't matched by his interpretative skills. He is correct that Deustche Grammophon did "follow" Giulini, but it should be said that in a relatively brief period of time, Giulini did raise the orchestra's stature, setting the stage for its emergence as a notable American and international symphony orchestra under the baton of Salonen.)