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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Elisabeth Leonskaja is a mature pianist now mainly recording for the Dabringhaus & Grimm (MDG) label (Brahms, Chopin, and a recent Beethoven CD), but back in the 1990s she was a Teldec recording artist with some good Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov discs. Ms Leonskaja also recorded some excellent Schubert and, as here, Chopin. The original release of this 2-CD set was Chopin: Nocturnes, then it was released after the (botched) Warner take-over as a cheap "Ultima" set Chopin - Nocturnes, this Apex release, and it's now available in a recent Warner Chopin boxed set that I have favourably reviewed elsewhere Chopin - Masterworks, Vol 1, which is possibly a better buy than the Apex release if you want the other CDs in that set.

Chopin's 21 Nocturnes were written over the whole of his composing career and could be described as "mood studies" even, dare I say it, "background" music. That description would, however, rather miss the point of this unostentatious music. Chopin rarely performed concerts, preferring instead small, intimate, performances for a select (mainly very rich) few. During these salon performances I imagine that Choipn played these Nocturnes long into the evening. Several have an air of mystery and the music sounds very contempoary with some "minimalist" piano works of our time. Some say that the Nocturnes are reflections of Chopin's love of bel canto opera in the way that the works sometimes "sing". This is all very lovely stuff, but I detect an undertow of misery in some of these pieces; maybe that's what Robert Schumann meant with his "cannons buried in flowers" quote?

Ms Leonskaja is up against a formidable number of recordings from the likes of Arrau, Novaes, Ohlsson and the ubiquitous Rubinstein Rubinstein: The Chopin Collection, although am I the only one who finds the latter very famous set faintly boring and robotic? Ms Leonskaja is, however, a consistent and reliable guide to these pieces, beautifully recorded in 1992, and this Apex release would be an ideal choice for those looking to dip their ears in Chopin's Nocturnes.

Highly recommended and, while you are at it, have a read of "Chopin's Funeral" an excellent biography of Chopin written in a non-academic style by Benita Eisler Chopin's Funeral, a terrific companion to Leonskaja's lovely CD.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Whilst I was a little underwhelmed when I heard some of this pianists Schubert sonatas recorded by Teldec/ Warner in the 1990's (a majority were very good indeed), her playing on these two cd's is wonderful. She is a subtle and visionary interpreter of these beautiful works. I liked Barenboim's DG recordings but these are even better. It has all been said so eloquently by the other reviewers of these discs so do not hesitate to buy this set before it disappears into download land. The originally Teldec recordings are a model of clarity and naturalness. I can see why the great Richter thought so highly of Leonskaja!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 18 August 2012
Elisabeth Leonskaja's reissued Chopin Nocturnes are - from first to last - unhurriedly beautiful in the grand romantic late 19th century style, more reminiscent of Rubinstein and Freire than Pires and Pollini, incorporating rather deliberate and expansive rubato that will not be to everyone's taste.

For example, the f-sharp minor Nocturne, Op. 15, No. 2, almost loses its "Chopinesque" way entirely and only just avoids morphing into something altogether Debussian! But this is an extreme example - and a very personal quibble - and should in no way dissuade you from adding this most remarkable (and inexpensive!) account of Chopin's Nocturnes to your collection.

I would not, however, recommend this recording to a first time Chopin Nocturne listener; the first recording I heard was Ashkenazy's on Decca from the early 1990s and although rather straight-forward and "by the book," they remain exceedingly accessible and hauntingly beautiful despite Decca's overly spacious acoustic.

A very strong 4½ stars for a fiendishly talented and intelligent pianist... that I completely missed in the early 90s! I have since heard a selection of her Schubert piano sonatas and I say, without reservations, that they are on an artistic and aesthetic par with Uchida and Brendel... that is to say, mightily impressive! Elisabeth Leonskaja - whose "old school" phrasing, pedalling and rubato remind me irresistibly of no less a pianistic giant than Sviatoslav Richter - needs to be completely rediscovered!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 10 May 2011
As somebody who once aspired to record all the Chopin Nocturnes myself, I found this recording very satisfying. The playing is expressive, keeps you listening, and soothes you at the same time. I recommend it highly.
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on 15 July 2015
This is just the music that I was looking for. It is perfect solo piano music to relax to, or as a background to reading, or to doing jobs around the house. I don't know a lot about classical music, but I have the impression that this music benefits from Elisabeth Leonskaja's perfect timing and technique, whilst her feminine touch, in my opinion, transfers a beneficial emotional quality to it.
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on 15 March 2012
The ideal album if you wish to discover this composer, being half Polish I'm biased but his nocturnes are really beautiful although they aren't considered to be his absolutely best work according to the cognoscenti. Moving, hauntingly beautiful music nonetheless.
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on 13 January 2013
excellent to hear chapan'smusicso well demonstrated. easy listening for calm and restfulbreak in a hectic lifestyle. Particularly likje the price of album. well done Amazon
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on 17 October 2014
A bit dull and repetitive but nothing wrong with the product or delivery. My first introduction to Chopin so it may grow on me.
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on 11 December 2013
Just what you need at the end of the day with a good book and glass/bottle of wine. Bliss. Enjoy.
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on 13 April 2015
If you want something classical that soothes the soul this should tick all possible boxes
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