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12 Etudes (Uchida)

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Audio CD (12 Mar. 2001)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Philips 50
  • ASIN: B000051YD9
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 149,903 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Format: Audio CD
This disc arrived for review in 1990 and was immediately and universally lauded as the best then available and by some considerable margin. In addition to Uchida's playing, the disc was also praised for its remarkable realism as recorded piano sound, a notoriously difficult medium to capture faithfully.

Time has marched on and now, 23 years later, the disc has been reissued as a legendary performance and has also received remastering using the latest 24 bit technology. In the meantime, what was then a pretty thin selection of alternative recordings offering that elusive combination of musical excellence with recording excellence, has now fattened up considerably with strong entries by Bavouzet, Aimard and Thibaudet amongst others. All of these have been bought, admired and, with the exception of the disc by Bavouzet, have been discarded in favour of this disc by Uchida that still has claim to remain supremely satisfying and possibly still the best yet.

Apart from the wonderfully clear and believable piano sound, the disc has the sort of effortless virtuosity that makes the listener forget the hurdles that must be overcome and thus concentrate on the very abstract music thus presented. Only when consideration of the actual playing is then made does one also register the technical accomplishment too.

Like the Chopin etudes, these pieces are essentially designed to be a comprehensive test and practice challenge for performing pianists of the highest calibre. To be heard struggling is to destroy the musical appeal of the message so the pianist has to be both a superb technician as well as a remarkable artist. This is what Uchida is and this is why this disc remains such a landmark in recordings of these pieces.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x91a291b0) out of 5 stars 2 reviews
HASH(0x91a2c7d4) out of 5 stars This disc comprehensively swept the board in 1990 and continues to astonish 17 Sept. 2013
By I. Giles - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This disc arrived for review in 1990 and was immediately and universally lauded as the best then available and by some considerable margin. In addition to Uchida's playing, the disc was also praised for its remarkable realism as recorded piano sound, a notoriously difficult medium to capture faithfully.

Time has marched on and now, 23 years later, the disc has been reissued as a legendary performance and has also received remastering using the latest 24 bit technology. In the meantime, what was then a pretty thin selection of alternative recordings offering that elusive combination of musical excellence with recording excellence, has now fattened up considerably with strong entries by Bavouzet, Aimard and Thibaudet amongst others. All of these have been bought, admired and, with the exception of the disc by Bavouzet, have been discarded in favour of this disc by Uchida that still has claim to remain supremely satisfying and possibly still the best yet.

Apart from the wonderfully clear and believable piano sound, the disc has the sort of effortless virtuosity that makes the listener forget the hurdles that must be overcome and thus concentrate on the very abstract music thus presented. Only when consideration of the actual playing is then made does one also register the technical accomplishment too.

Like the Chopin etudes, these pieces are essentially designed to be a comprehensive test and practice challenge for performing pianists of the highest calibre. To be heard struggling is to destroy the musical appeal of the message so the pianist has to be both a superb technician as well as a remarkable artist. This is what Uchida is and this is why this disc remains such a landmark in recordings of these pieces.

I would therefore suggest that this disc remains one of, if not the, best recordings yet made of these works. Never mind the short playing time and the lack of additional works. Feel the quality as they used to say about tailoring!

This disc certainly warrants a place in any Debussy collection of these works. I would also add the Bavouzet verion. Equally fine but interpretively and tonally different.
HASH(0x91a2c930) out of 5 stars Unsurpassable 12 Feb. 2011
By G.D. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Uchida made these recordings in 1989, and for this reissue Philips has given the recording a 24-bit remastering. Without being able to compare it with the original release, the sound is quite superb; well-defined, well-balanced and very "real"-sounding. But it is of course the playing that matters most, and Uchida's performances are truly astounding. The composer's markings are (at least in general) meticulously observed, but this never has the effect of making the music sound dry and mechanical - quite the opposite; Uchida's attention to textural details, her ability to unleash breath-taking beauty, the energy and flexibility of these performances are as far as I know pretty much peerless. The music is always clearly articulated, technically assured and agile, and full of the most gorgeous coloristic effects imaginable. If I were to pick some highlights (even though doing so seems almost unfair), I would perhaps mention in particular the seventh and eight etudes (the latter is interestingly the one where she takes most liberties with the written score), where Uchida realizes a level of luminosity and range of nuances that must surely be unsurpassable. The energy and spirit of the final etude also warrant special mention. In short, this is an absolutely unmissable release; recommended with all possible enthusiasm.
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