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4.5 out of 5 stars
Chopin Etudes
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This disc, well recorded in 2001, received many critical plaudits upon its first issue as here. It entered a fairly competitive market with well regarded recordings made by many of the world's finest Chopin players.

Perahia, sometimes described as the poet of the keyboard, delivers a set of readings on this disc that fit that general description. One is aware of a greater use of light and shade than is often the case. He also makes use of more sparing rubato. Neither of these features is a universal element in terms of these pieces which, at base level, are studies designed to expose and remedy technical flaws.

The etudes are targeted at particular technical issues and it is therefore an implied requirement that tempo should be kept steadier than in other compositions. What Perahia has done on this recording is to broaden the focus to include other musical notions such as phrasing and touch and to do this he has been prepared to be more flexible in terms of basic tempo. Perahia has a considerable technique and that is made clear in a handful of etudes that are played quicker than usual. Thus the listener is able to accept more easily the times when slower or more varied tempi are used as there can be no doubt that such interpretive decisions have been taken regardless of technical competency.

The are other fine versions to consider of course. The Ashkenazy set is possibly the nearest to adopting the closest to the written requirements and to that he adds his own volatile temperament. His disc is available in an excellently remastered version using 24 bit technology. Pollini gives a typically brilliant version but it is arguable that his recording emphasises the aggressive side of his playing which comes over as rather unyielding - almost the opposite of Perahia. Lugansky gives a deeply satisfying account and his lays claim to being the darkest view of the pieces. His disc was awarded a prize upon first release. Finally, among this short short-list, one must not ignore Rubinstein's row of polished diamonds, best bought in his bargain box set of complete Chopin.

I would therefore suggest that this disc by Perahia is fully deserving of being considered as one of the very best available. I would not wish to be without either Lugansky or Ashkenazy either, both of whom take a straighter view of the music, one darker and one more volatile respectively. Collectors of multiple versions will want at least those three. Single disc purchasers could de completely satisfied with this disc by Perahia - or the ones by Ashkenazy or Lugansky.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 5 November 2004
Murray Perahia is a pianist who has refused to stand still in a quest to deliver definitve recordings of the greatest piano works. His recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations met with universal acclaim. This recording of Chopin's Etudes reaches the same giddy heights.
Chopin's Etudes are a combination of virtuosity and lyricism. In these works Chopin pushes piano technique to the limit and it is no wonder that Liszt adored these pieces (and it's said that he sight read them) and had them in his repertoire inside a day. Perahia brings to the table a phenomenal technique and an astonishing level of understanding of the soul of Chopin. Yes, the first etude is thrown off with frightening elan - but Perahia also manages to bring to the forefront Chopin's underlying melody. And listen to the A flat etude, No 1 of the Op 25 set - here is a work of remarkable beauty but in which the harmony is formed by a myriad of arpeggiated notes. The challenge is to allow the melody to sing out from the forest of notes which form the harmonic background. And Perahia rises to the challenge like no other pianist I have listened to.
There are other great recordings of the Etudes - Pollini and Ashkenazy are both well worth having. But for musical understanding and first rate sound I believe this is now the market leader. Anyone with a passing interest in the art of the pianist will derive great joy from this work. Guaranteed.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 27 January 2006
It takes guts to attempt the Études; as any pianist will tell you they are horrifically difficult to play. Even the great Horowitz is rumoured to have refused to play Op. 10 No. 1 live because he found it too daunting. You can understand why! Two minutes of very high-speed yo-yoing arpeggios. And yet such is Perahia's command of the instrument that never once does he sound out of control. What a joy it is to listen to this wonderful musician who, at the peak of his incredible abilities, seems to gild every piece he plays with his unique hue of gold.
Brilliant.
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on 10 September 2011
I don't think I know of any other pianist who can play with as much lightness of tone as Murray Perahia. His God-given talent enables him to makes it sound as if though his music is floating. In addition, he has a technique that enables him to run technical passages with such fluency that it can sound almost like a breeze of notes. But, like all musicians, there are some things that don't come easily for Perahia. Perahia's challenge is delivering heroic grandeur, something that one should want in these etudes. In the etudes that require punch and heavy drama, Perahia will inevitably sound as if though his limits are being pushed. The form in which this comes is often a harshness of tone that almost seems to belie his gift of sensitivity. I guess none of us are perfect. So, my complaint with this album is its lack of any kind of fire, anything intense. In such etudes as the "Revolutionary", there is not much revolution to boot. I would love to go away with renewed passion after listening to such ground-breaking works, but I just don't get it here.

But perhaps I'm being a bit unfair to a pianist who had just recovered from a serious hand injury. This isn't playing that fails to arouse any kind of emotion. I'm actually surprised how flawlessly strong his technique is; his hand injury hasn't caused any kind of technical setbacks. And while this disc lacks throbbing excitement, it is full of hair-rising virtuosic playing--playing that pulls out lots of detail. Some of the etudes are more suited to this approach than others; Perahia's approach seems to work the best with the 5th etude, the "Black Key". The sheer thrill of hearing these etudes played with such ease makes this CD worth the listen.

So, despite its setbacks, this is a fine album. It just doesn't stand up near the top of the list of Perahia's achievements, a pianist who elsewhere sends me into raves.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 27 April 2003
This recording is perfect:
1. The recording is of an excellent, crisp sound quality.
2. The artist- Murray Perahia is brilliant in his own right. He is a very talented pianist who plays the etudes inspirationally.
3. The etudes themselves are incredibly difficult, and at the same time very enjoyable pieces to listen to. There are 24 of the 27 that Chopin wrote on this CD.
This CD, despite being quite pricey is one of the best CDs I have. It is a must for a Chopin fan.
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19 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on 12 December 2003
I know that this is probably flying in the face of general opinion, but I think this recording is over-rated.
Perahia undoubtedly benefits from a flawless modern recording and I'm not disputing the fact that, if one had to have only one recording of the 24 Etudes, this could serve perfectly well.
However, it seems the recordings by Gavrilov, Ashkenazy and Pollini have been relegated to distant memory. Each of those three has something unique to offer but, in terms of pianism (rather than recording quality, or artist "profile") I rate them all above Perahia's recording.
Gavrilov in particular shows what transcendental pianism should sound like. In pieces where Perahia sounds laboured (for example, Op.10 No.4) Gavrilov sounds completely in control. In General Gavrilov's tempi are quicker than Perahia's AND he manages to produce a more even tone, whilst in the slower Etudes (Op.10 No.6, Op.25 No.7) he gives quite heart-rending performances. Pollini's recording is justly famous, and Ashkenazy's is probably truest to the score.
Another advantage of Ashkenazy's and Gavrilov's recordings is that they are now available at much more affordable prices, Gavrilov's on EMI and Ashkenazy's as part of a 2-CD set from Decca. Pollini's is still at full price on DG.
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This is a distinguished and polished reading of the Etudes Op. 25 and Op.10. The first thing you notice is Perahia's evenness of tone and touch and the warm rich sound of the piano. There are moments that are quite dazzlying and a few moments not so brilliant, but overall this is a very fine performance, although the reference recording may still be Pollini's.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 22 May 2003
A sublime cd performed by one of the greatest pianists of today in my opinion. Murray Periah polishes off these extremely difficult pieces by Chopin, amongst the hardest in piano literature.
The main highlights include the amazing opening etude in C major, played beautifully and you cant actually fathom how anyone could play at that speed with racing arpeggios, which span over an octave. The last track of the cd goes back to this kind of study using arpeggios, but this time with both hands in C minor, and the passion and intellect which has gone into this performance has amazed me.
The 'black note' etude is a well known favourite, performed again astonishingly well, and with apparent ease, with the hugely exciting middle crescendo part that explodes at the end. The 'revolutionary' study is another favourite, and WOW is that played to the full.
Personally I prefer the first 12 etudes, but the whole cd is an experience to listen to, and I would strongly advise classical music lovers to get this cd, a must, must buy. It also offers the 24 bit technology for improved sound quality, which is noticable.
One thing to say is that if you like more relaxing classics or only tend to listen to the more famous and well known classics, then this may not be for you, as the pieces are very complex and often not easy on the ear.
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on 27 December 2014
Thoughtful, mature and beautiful performance. Very great skill and vision here, which are very convincing. Well recorded too- very glad I found this on Amazon.
Fine condition, quick delivery actually ahead of expected delivery time, and an unbelievably good price. Very happy with this music.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 7 November 2007
I was so underwhelmed by this reading of the etudes, compared to Pollini, or John Browning, they are staid and flat. No where near enough virtuosity and even worse, no poetic architecture. Rubinstein declared himself not up to the task of recording the whole set and he was arguably the finst Chopin interpreter on record. Perahia is a fine classical artist but I fear Chopin is not his forte. I would strongly recommend Pollini, Gavrilov or as I said earlier, John Browning's wonderful performance, glittered with daring virtuosity without rhetoric and always beautifully poetic.
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