on 13 July 2009
A good pairing, with the sonatas on one disc and the etudes and Fantasie in F minor on the other. Ashkenazy is, of course, technically excellent throughout. His interpretation is, I feel, very 'correct'. The etudes are unsuprisingly, then, beautifully executed. The Sonatas should allow a greater individuality to come to the fore. Here again, Ashkenazy provides a good, and 'true' template. To illustrate his approach, one might usefully compare Ashkenazy and Argerich in their treatment of the latter parts of the 2nd Sonata. In the 3rd movement, Ashkenazy is stricter with the tempo, and gives it a proper 'march' feel, whilst Argerich is distinctly freer. Argerich plays the finale with a lightness of touch that conveys a sense of otherworldliness that is both disturbing and breathtaking. Askenazy, meanwhile, provides a clearer articulation, according due respect to the score as written. In other words, it is difficult to fault this version of the Sonatas; whether you choose it over another of the greats is largely a matter of personal taste (me, I like Martha!).
on 21 August 2011
I have recently become familiar with Vladimir Ashkenazy's amazing piano skills on his recordings of the Rachmaninov Piano Concertos with Bernard Haitink and the Concertgebouw Orchestra. [1986/7, Decca]. Naturally I was keen to hear his Chopin recordings for Decca and I certainly haven't been disappointed. On this CD are three of Chopin's Piano Sonatas and all 24 Etudes plus the Fantaisie in F minor. I was particularly keen to hear him play one of my favourite Chopin Etudes in E Major Opus 10 ["Tristesse"]. I had a very good recording of it years ago on cassette which I lost and I have no idea who the pianist was. I have a compilation CD with "Tristesse" on, but that recording didn't move me. With Ashkenazy playing it, I discovered again what a wonderful Etude it is. His playing of the three Piano Sonatas is superb as well, and I was quite taken by the Scherzo of the second Sonata in B flat minor. op. 35. Ashkenazy quite simply brings Chopin's beautiful Music on this CD to life and is a joy to listen to over and over again.