2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A fine group of performances by three fine pianists to consider,
This review is from: Chopin: The Nocturnes (Audio CD)
These discs, recorded in 1995 and 1996, provide a real alternative type of interpretation to those of Rubinstein or Ashkenazy to name but two of the considerable number of fine pianists recorded in this repertoire. The recording is sensitive and appropriate to the performances.
Most strikingly there is more rubato applied to the music than either of the two pianists named above. This, coupled with a generally forward moving pace, creates a marked sense that this is a set of almost improvisatory performances. The improvisatory feel to the performances however seems to be a totally natural outcome of the playing and not simply imposed upon the music by formula. This stops any sense of cloying additional emotionalism. Pires also employs a somewhat gentle touch throughout, which is not to say the the more forceful passages lack appropriate power. The performances produce a sense of affectionate warmth which is both attractive and convincing. The scale of the performances is quite intimate when compared with others.
One of the others could be Ashkenazy whose performances are altogether more architectural and conceived on a bigger emotional scale altogether. There is no doubt that there is more 'steel' in his finger-work so to speak and the tempos are kept more stable than Pires with far less rubato applied. Once more, there is no sense of overplaying the emotional content however and this too makes for a very satisfying experience. His recording is more 'present' to match the larger concept which is more of a concert hall approach in its effect as compared to the more intimate Pires.
Rubinstein goes even further along the road of intimacy with the sense that this has been recorded with a small room in mind, rather a chamber music approach. Rubinstein also keeps the rubato in check and his approach is by far the coolest of the three. Every note is clearly defined and, to quote other sources, it can be likened to a row of perfectly formed pearls set before us to admire and appreciate. Rubinstein's recording is rather closely balanced and still has a touch of woodenness about it despite the clear improvements made since LP days and early CDs.
There are three fine choices available here but all quite different. I would suggest that all three warrant very serious consideration for any potential purchaser and all three are capable of giving considerable satisfaction. Choosing the favoured discs may be a matter of assessing ideas of warmth, coolness, scale of performance (intimate up to larger) and the degrees of rubato leading to improvisatory or architectural impressions that would be most agreeable to individual taste.
Finally it should be mentioned that DGG have now issued this recording at a lower price point.