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EMI's no-frills Chopin anniversary box
on 30 January 2010
Acquiring Chopin's complete works for just under two quid per disc is quite a bargain, if Garrick Ohlsson, Cecile Ousset, and Ronald Smith are the pianists you want to hear in this repertoire. I don't know what EMI's selection process might've been for the recordings in this box, but it's safe to say that none of these performances have really suffered from overexposure to the listening public. I certainly haven't heard any of them.
Here's a brief rundown of the contents: Garrick Ohlsson plays the complete preludes, nocturnes, and polonaises, as well as the two piano concertos (with Jerzy Maksymiuk and the Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra); Augustin Anievas plays the waltzes and impromptus; Andrei Gavrilov gets the Etudes, opp.10 & 25; Cecile Ousset plays the second and third piano sonatas, the four scherzos, and the four ballades; and Ronald Smith handles the complete mazurkas.
Pianists chosen for Chopin's lesser-known music include Leif Ove Andsnes (Sonata no.1), Claudio Arrau (the Allegro de Concert, op.46), Daniel Barenboim, Tzimon Barto, Paolo Bordoni, Benjamin Grosvenor, Danielle Laval, Ronald Smith again, and Alexis Weissenberg. The cello sonata is played by Charles Owen (piano) and Natalie Clein; the piano trio by Marianna Shirinyan, Vilde Frang, and Andreas Brantelid; and the nineteen songs by mezzo-soprano Eugenia Zareska and pianist Giorgio Favaretto.
Interesting that EMI decided not to allow its Chopin recordings by Martha Argerich, Dinu Lipatti, and Maurizio Pollini anywhere near this budget-priced reissue box.