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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Always inspirational, emotionally driven and not for the faint hearted, 3 Mar 2013
By 
I. Giles (Argyll, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Chopin: 26 Preludes (Audio CD)
This disc contains performances from Argerich at her most volatile and inspirational. The Preludes and the Scherzo dates from the 1970s and the remainder of the disc date from the 1960s. The whole program has been remastered and the sound thus achieved is no cause for concern. The performances themselves are from a time when Argerich was still in her youth and they give no quarter in terms of being emotionally super-charged. In the hands of lesser pianists some may describe these types of interpretations as impetuous but that suggests a lack of previous thought. In this case these performances, which are certainly emotionally driven and at white heat, betray no such casualness. Instead the impression gained is that of intense emotionalism intensely controlled.

The Preludes are delivered as if one sustained piece with very little pause between one and the next. Chopin wrote them all as a complete unit which was unusual for him. Most of his collected works as bought today (sets of Scherzi, Nocturnes, Impromptus, Mazurkas etc.) were written individually throughout his life and were never intended to be played as complete sets. The Preludes were different though and that is very much how Argerich plays them - as a stream of continuous inspiration.

In general terms there is an emphasis on forwardly moving tempi, some considerably faster than normal. This is most true when a faster piece follows on without any pause from the previous piece so that they become emotionally joined. This seems perfectly acceptable when so many of these preludes are so fragmentary and benefit by being so joined.

The Scherzo also receives a blistering performance and the Polonaise is played with equal drive but with the repetitive middle section still tightly controlled rhythmically so that there is no sense of destructive 'gabble.' These are fine performances. So too is the flowing performance of the Barcarolle, once more an individually refreshing concept.

This is a thrilling disc with a strong sense of improvisatory drive and displaying highly charged emotional responses. There are equally valid ways of playing this repertoire but none more convincing than this in its own way. Definitely not Chopin playing for the faint hearted!

I would suggest that this disc should be seriously considered as a 'must buy' for all collectors interested in alternative interpretations. Purchasers interested in an 'only' buy may wish to tread more carefully if they are after a representative disc of the Preludes. This one may make all the others seem unjustifiably dull!

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I thought that you might like to know that before I buy a recording I now look through all the reviews to see if you have posted one. Your assessments and opinions are invaluable. Thank you. (US review)

I particularly like your format of review. They give the prospective purchaser an idea of the style of the playing and relevant comparisons. They are succinct. Keep up the good work! (UK review)

I'm sure there are many other serious collectors, besides myself, who wait for your synopsis and opinion before spending their hard-earned money on new releases...
Keep up the good work!
Thank you (UK review)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb CD of Chopin's Preludes, 5 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Chopin: 26 Preludes (Audio CD)
I love Chopin's Preludes and this performance by Martha Argerich is one of the best.Her performance is volatile and exciting and of its type is by reputation the best.
But that is not the only way to play them.I also have Garrick Ohlsseon on EMI and Rafal Blechacz on DG,both of which are superb performances and quite different in approach.
So I can recommend Argerich's performance without reservation but suggest you consider other recordings for alternative interpretations.
These are wonderful works and no pianist can do full justice to them on one recording.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Preludes and nocturnes-chopin, 9 Jun 2014
By 
Mr. Walter Mawer "lindum" (gloucestershire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Chopin: 26 Preludes (Audio CD)
a first class recital of the preludes and nocturnes,and the bonus of sheet music accompanying the nocturnes to replace
my well thumbed Schirmer edition.A well earned five star.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, 30 July 2014
By 
Troika (Norfolk, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Chopin: 26 Preludes (Audio CD)
A rollercoaster ride of virtuosity from Argerich, revealing the highest calibre of both beauty and technical prowess.
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12 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Han ..., 6 Jun 2009
By 
MarmiteMan (Norwich, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Chopin: 26 Preludes (Audio CD)
Have always appreciated Chopin's Nocturnes and Préludes for their peaceful and introspective qualities, and had the Naxos CDs of both - just for, you know, to have them. Naxos are to be credited for making Classical more accessible to the general public, particularly if one wants some piece heard in a film or television drama. My first was Mozart's 'Gran Partita' Serenade for 12 Wind Instruments and basso continuo,' for the adagio, as Salieri (F. Murray Abraham) recounts in tortured rapture how he found himself "staring through the bars of an Absolute beauty" during AMADEUS. However, if you want more emotion and 'feeling' from your Classical, you'll need to look beyond Naxos for one of the more prominent virtuosi.

Again, it was film/television that delivered the 'hook,' during THE WEST WING episode 'Han,' in which a closely-watched by his paranoid minders young North Korean wishes to defect to the West, but is told in hushed tones by President Bartlet (Martin Sheen) during rehearsal why the timing is awkward due to behind-the-scenes nuclear disarmament talks. The saddened Korean then plays a different, slower piece whilst trying to explain the Korean word 'han,' a concept that translates poorly into English, but (as Bartlet later explains to C.J. and the viewers), "There is no literal English translation. It's a state of mind. Of soul, really. Of sadness. A sadness so deep no tears will come. And yet, still, there is hope ..." That piece (Chopin's Prélude No. 4 in E minor, Op. 28) could not have been better-chosen to accompany the scene. I had to have it.

But just 'any old disc' with the piece on it would not do. I wanted to be able to sit back, stare into the middle distance or at the ceiling, and just be absorbed by the emotion. The local online library's music catalogue helped, but Amazon's audio snippets service helped more - otherwise I would have done what occurred with my quest for Mozart's 'Gran Partita' CD: bought several, by different orchestras with different arrangements, until settling on 'the right one' with 'the right sound.' Daniel Barenboim plays Chopin well, perhaps, as some reviewers noted, lacking some conviction, but does Debussy better. Similarly, Vladimir Ashkenazy also plays Chopin well, though maybe a tad too 'fast' (?), but does Mozart better. The temperaments of both seem more suited to those composers. But Martha Argerich - forgive the pun - hit the right notes, keys and feeling, allowing one to feel, if one can say this, 'han' ...
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