on 7 March 2010
All Rubinstein's Chopin recordings are valuable examples of his art and his early EMI sessions - collected here - are amongst his finest. Whether they are better than his later ones for RCA Victor will always be a matter for debate but, what is certain, is that these five discs contain some of the finest and most rewarding Chopin playing ever recorded.
Here are superb performances of the complete published nocturnes, mazurkas, ballades, concertos, polonaises and scherzi together with assorted shorter works. For example, the first three nocturnes are probably the finest ever recorded and the set of mazurkas remain a benchmark. [There are no preludes and etudes and only representative walzes as complete sets of these works were recorded during the same period by Alfred Cortot for EMI who, generally, did not duplicate repetoire in major projects.]
This is a reissue of the 1992/3 remasters and the booklet also includes Max Harrison's interesting essay which accompanied that earlier issue. The sound quality is, for the time, excellent and the set can be recommended without reservation to all lovers of Chopin's music. An essential purchase as, of course, are his later recordings for RCA Victor.
on 6 December 2011
I hesitated at first about buying 11 CDs of one singer but went ahead and am delighted to have done so since Nicolai Gedda had such a wide repertoire and in so many languages that there is never any feeling of monotony. Gedda was surely one of the truly great lyric tenors of the last century. He had everything: beautiful even production, especially remarkable at the top of his range where there isn't a trace of strain even at full volume; a burnished silver tone; the ability to characterize and in addition perfect diction, whatever language he was singing in (he was an outstanding linguist, speaking at least seven languages fluently).
Although he made over 200 recordings he was never really a household name, mainly I would say because he never cheapened his art by taking part in publicity-seeking gimmicks, never behaved badly towards colleagues or cancelled at the drop of a hat. (I'm using the past tense even though Gedda is still alive at 86).
The opera extracts involving Victoria de los Angeles are a particular delight: the two singers got on particularly well together and indeed have much in common in the approach to their art. The Icon set of de los Angeles is also well worth acquiring.
Some of the tracks I already had on CD and a comparison shows that EMI has made a great job of the remastering: the voice is a touch more realistic and orchestral backings have greater depth. The CDs are also very generously filled, all with timings of at least 75 minutes.
on 22 July 2011
Thank you, Mr. Koskinen for your wonderful and perceptive review.
I will not add any to this, however I must say that this and many of the other EMI Icon sets are a wonderful value. This set in particular is past praise. Who other than the incomparable Mr. Fischer-Dieskau has proven so omni-talented, flexible and made so many fine recordings? Mr. Gedda uses the term "document" in reference to many of his recordings. He is absolutely right. How blessed we have been to have heard Mr. Gedda and have these marvelous "documents" of his art.
And I whole-heartedly agree: the Interview disc is worth the price alone. One is struck by Gedda's near perfect English(should we really be surprised?). WONDERFUL all around. Buy this set before it is too late. Enough said.
on 16 October 2014
Wonderful playing as one expects from a master interpreter of Chopin. But some of the recordings go back to the 30s so the sound quality isn't wonderful, and the background hiss is disconcerting in some of the most reflective quiet passages. Sadly only 2 waltzes are included, but what a set for the money.
on 21 February 2011
Because he lived out his adult life in Paris, sometimes desperately homesick for his native Poland, one doesn't readily think of Chopin as a Polish composer. But to hear Rubinstein play his Mazurka and Polonaises is to be reminded of the authentic Chopin. Who could ask for more?
on 18 September 2010
For any one who is interested:There follows my opinion of the best redordings of the works of Chopin.
The Waltzes. No one plays them better than Dino Lapatti.
The Nocturns. Artur Rubinstein
A close second is Peter Katin.
The Polonaises. Artur Rubinstein. A close second, Peter Frankel.
The Preludes. Friedrich Gulda.
The Scherzoz. No.1 Artur Rubinstein.No.2Benno Moiseiwitsch.
No's 3 and 4 Artur rubinstein.
The Ballades.No's 1-3 Benno Moiseiwitsch.No.4. Madam Helena Stavanska
The Fantasie Impromtu. Opus 66, Benno Moiseiwitsch.
I think that will do for now!