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46 of 47 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great experience, 11 Jan 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Chopin: Complete Piano Works (Audio CD)
Lovers of Chopin and admirers of Ashkenazy will find much to enjoy in these 13 CDs, and need not hesitate to buy. Be warned, however, that the recordings span ten years from 1974 to 1984 and although the piano sound is well captured in typical Decca fashion, with the percussive character of the instrument to the fore, there is considerable variation in the quality of the venues used. The booklet gives a venue listing, but identifies neither the dates nor the venues of individual items. We are told, however, which items are DDD and which are ADD. In general, the ADD items fare better: here, the worst you have to contend with is the occasional birdsong realistically captured along with the performance in hand. Several of the DDD items are marred by excessive background noise in the form of low-frequency rumble from what sounds like an air-conditioning system. ADD and DDD items are somewhat indiscriminately mixed, too (although the sounds are usually very well matched, and you will not always be aware of the change from one to the other). For example, if you are familiar with, and love, the analogue recordings of the Ballades and Scherzos, you may be disappointed to find that Ballades 1 and 4 and Scherzos 1 and 4 are new digital recordings. And, to make matters worse, Ballade No.4 is one of the DDD recordings plagued by the low-frequency background noise, and in this case the noise is allowed to continue after the performance is over, right through the pause and into the first chord of Scherzo No.1, where, quite audibly, it stops. Crazy editing policy, Decca!!
Despite these complaints, I greatly enjoyed listening to Ashkenazy's Chopin throughout the 13 CDs, and the set will remain in my collection, frequently visited.
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vladimir Ashkenazy is a joy of an interpretation!, 9 Jan 2000
This review is from: Chopin: Complete Piano Works (Audio CD)
Over the past 15 years I have hunted out many interpretations of Chopin by different performers. I now have an eclectic collection covering all of his major works. However, the signal force of unity has always been Ashkenazy, whose technical proficiency and cultural sympathy for the works of that French/Polish genius have always proved to be recondite and alluring. I should stress that there is much on this "complete collection" that may not appeal -- specifically works like the Gb Impromptu, the Fantasie in Fm, and the Etude in E; the 3 piano sonatas are also very "precise", and I for one much prefer Vasery's indulgence and pedalling. However, *as a set of piano music*, it's impossible to discount Ashkenazy's sensitivity, technical proficiency, and plain sophistication. There could be no better person to record the collected piano works of this great composer, and while individual pieces may sometimes exasperate or annoy, he has the consistency of appeal that is the stamp of genius. Of especial merit is the set of Ballades; the polonaises are a little throwaway, and the mazurkas do not anyway leave much room for imagination. The best thing is the last two CDs, which include all the "hard to find" of Chopin's music - Contredanse, Ecossaises, Bourees. His rendering of probably Chopin's most beautiful work, the Barcarolle, is again studiously precise sometimes to the point of indifference, but this cannot detract from the fact that if I had to choose *one* interpretation of all of Chopin's piano music, I couldn't question for a moment whose it should be.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellant set, 25 Feb 2005
By 
S. Haffner "Stefan" (Alcester, Warwickshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Chopin: Complete Piano Works (Audio CD)
This is, as far as i know, the only complete set of Chopins music, and who better to play it than Ashkenazy. Ashkenazy is probably my favourite pianist. His incredibly clean passagework and easy virtuosity are rarely surpassed, in my opinion. As an overall chopin interpreter, i would favour Ashkenazy over anyone. I bought this set as a pianist wanting to hear what all of chopins music sounds like, and Askenazys down the middle, uncontroversial style is perfect for me. As an overall set, this is hard to beat, but it would be worth looking at a few other recordings, such as Arthur Rubenstein, for a different interpretation. Indeed Rubenstein seems to be the most critically acclaimed Chopin interpreter around.
My favourite Cd in the set is Cd 2, which contains the Ballades and Scherzo's. These are powerful works of genius, which display an often doubted mastery of large-scale form.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless. Wonderful interpretations with very few flaws, 26 May 2010
By 
km.ord (Liverpool UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Chopin: Complete Piano Works (Audio CD)
I've been meaning to write a review about this Chopin collection for a couple of years without getting around to it. Seeing as no one else is in a hurry to do so, I thought it was time to at least voice some opinion with regards to Ashkenazy's solid, 13 disc (almost complete) traversal of Chopin's piano music.

The 13 discs within this set comprise of Vladimir Ashkenazy's complete Chopin recordings, dating from 1975, up until 1985. Do not be put off by the expansive time span of the recordings, or the fact that some of the discs (in particular the Mazurkas), are mixed digital and analogue tracks within the same disc. The engineers did wonderful things with these recordings, and I swear to you that you won't be able to hear difference between the two formats.

In fact, for many years, friends who were big Chopin fans were trying to dissuade my purchasing this set whenever it was reduced in the HMV - stressing the point of how unattractive it seemed to have analogue and digital changes within a particular piece of music. I took heed of their warnings, when in fact I shouldn't have. I should have listened for myself, earlier! For the past seven years or so, I've been enjoying these discs immensely; there isn't a dud track to be found, and the sound of the piano is so rich and luminous, you'd think that all of these recordings were made at the same venue, over the same time period.

Ashkenazy is a marvellous pianist, more suited to Rachmaninov than Chopin perhaps, as sometimes his heavy handedness is evident, particularly in the Etudes and Preludes (although hardly noticeable). Yet the Etudes and Preludes are both splendid versions; the Etudes, perhaps not as sparkling or as dashing as Pollini, but every bit as insightful. And Ashkenazy has no peers, when it comes to the Ballads, Scherzi and Polonaises, not to mention the Waltzes, and everything else for that matter. His G Minor Ballad is unsurpassed, and the Nocturnes are played so beautifully that they transcend all time and space.

The Polonaises are muscular, yet with a musicality which other performers sometimes fail to achieve; Pollini is brittle and a tad military in comparison. The Mazurkas are a delight from beginning to end.

I only intended to write a brief synopsis with regards to this set. Mention however, must also be made of the last two discs. It would be easy to overlook these last two, to think of them merely as 'fillers'. However, these final two discs are the crowning glory of this whole set, containing beautiful rarities of both early and late works. These pieces are played with such passion and sensitivity, they leave you yearning for more.

I picked this set up for around the forty five poundish mark, back in 2003, and I have noticed that the price has not varied much since then. They were a bargain at that time; in fact, they are an even greater bargain now. The cover of this set has been replaced (it used to bear a portrait painting of Chopin), so I'm not sure about the liner notes etc. However, it's the music which is important within and these discs will make you a happier person for the rest of your life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good choice, 20 Feb 2011
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This review is from: Chopin: Complete Piano Works (Audio CD)
Always wanted the complete works and finally made my mind up on this version.. Very pleased with the overall package.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chopin Complete Piano Works - Ashkenazy, 19 Jan 2011
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This review is from: Chopin: Complete Piano Works (Audio CD)
A splendid, most enjoyable set from a great pianist. Nice to know that all works are easy to access in this conveniently sized package.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A magnificent achievement, 23 Feb 2014
This review is from: Chopin: Complete Piano Works (Audio CD)
Although I am not a fan of the cardboard sleeve collections per se which I find awkward when handling the cds I had no choice when purchasing this complete set which represents a great bargain and introduces me to Chopin's less familiar works that I otherwise would not have easily come across, alongside the more famous works. Ashkenazy is superb, as is the recording sound from analogue to digital. For me, there is a crystalline clarity to the sound which suits these interpretations and it simply remains an essential overview.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Superb set Ashkenazy at his best, 25 Aug 2013
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This review is from: Chopin: Complete Piano Works (Audio CD)
I have had some of these recordings on vinyl since the eighties it has been wonderful to listen to them in even greater detail. Decca have done a brilliant job of bringing this collection together. Reading some of the reviews some people commented on poor recordings well they must have standards far to high. This set set is simply fantastic. Buy it you won't regret.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Chopin: the complete piano works, 28 July 2013
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This review is from: Chopin: Complete Piano Works (Audio CD)
To be able to buy the complete works of a famous composer -plus being performed by someone as great as Ashkenazy, is so useful - and this edition is terrific value for money. Yes, despite being a compromise; one might wish to select the Valses played by one favourite pianist - or the Preludes by another, but nonetheless, this is a great series of discs.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely fantastic set..., 2 Mar 2009
By 
N. Zaklama - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Chopin: Complete Piano Works (Audio CD)
I absolutely love Ashkenazy's playing and have done for many years. This set is very much worth the spend and I would highly recommend it. The one issue I have is background noise - on a lot of tracks there are birds twittering away in the background and, the previous comment about the low hum, is absolutely on the money. Very strange that the Decca engineers didn't think to get rid of this...however, don't let it detract from getting this set. Ashkenazy's playing is superb!
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