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LAST MAZURKA IN PARIS,
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This review is from: Chopin: Complete Mazurkas 2 (Audio CD)
This disc completes Garrick Ohlsson's fine set of the Chopin mazurkas. There are 28 of them here, following the opus-number sequence up to op 63, then alternating 8 compositions of various dates and lacking opus numbers with the posthumous opp 67 and 68 works. If I have understood the liner note rightly, 5 other pieces have been excluded, I suppose on grounds that they are adjudged spurious, although the matter is not spelt out.
Ohlsson's concept of the mazurkas is full-blooded and vigorous, although by no means wanting in delicacy of touch when needed, much less in delicacy of feeling. This approach is particularly well suited to the first number here, op 50/1 in G major, getting the disc off to a very promising start. You may find the piano recorded too close-to, but I prefer to put up with this as a very minor shortcoming rather than reduce the volume and so lose impact from the performance. There is no hint of distortion, the piano (Mason & Hamlin rebuilt by Mr William Schneider of Michigan State University) is agreeable in tone, and the sound is altogether in keeping with the artist's idea of the pieces.
The promising start goes on to fulfil its promise, I'm happy to say. If anything, I find Ohlsson's playing even better on this disc than on the first, particularly in the late works. Op 68/4 is Chopin's very last composition, which he was too enfeebled to play himself. You will not miss its significance as played here, and indeed Ohlsson shows deep and sympathetic perception of the intensely personal tone of the mazurkas all the way through both discs. In my notice of the earlier disc I suggested that Michelangeli provides us with an altogether higher experience of piano-playing, and I must in honesty stick by that opinion when it comes to the 6 numbers on his Chopin recital disc that duplicate what we find here, but that is another issue. If you are looking, as I was looking, for a fine complete set of these deep and soulful compositions that does proper justice to the unity in variety that they offer then I believe you will find a worthy tribute here to Chopin's memory in his bicentennial year.