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Boulez - Notations. Piano Sonatas Nos 1 - 3

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Composer: Pierre Boulez
  • Audio CD (8 Aug. 2005)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Hat Hut
  • ASIN: B0009X1LG0
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 370,936 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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This is a delightful disc which I can only commend to you - as long as you're happy to be in for some listening that's a bit challenging.
Pi-Hsien Chen studied with Kempff, Tatiana Nikolayevna and Geza Anda. She must be around 55 now and the delicacy of Kempff's touch is something that comes over in all these works. She doesn't rush her way through anything - her timing on the 1st sonata at 10'35" is a bit quicker than Rosen's 11'08" but materially gentler than Helffer's 8'50" or Pierre-Laurent Aimard's remarkable 8'39", and in the second sonata she is seriously slower than Pollini's awesome performance in the two outer movements, where Helffer is quicker than either. And while she doesn't thunder and wrench open the frustrations of Boulez's devastating imagination in especially the second sonata, she communicates the issues with a wisdom which I have come to appreciate over the year or so I have had this disc.
A special mention should be made for the recording of the Douze Notations, which do not get the exposure that the three sonatas enjoy. As often with very early works, there's a mixture of quality in the invention but Pi-Hsien Chen makes plenty of the Webern-like fragments and you're left feeling cleansed by the range of the imagination.
Lastly she makes a very fair case for the difficult Third Sonata, whose extended incompleteness always leaves me wondering what the real vision was aiming to be. I have found that I have needed a selection of recordings to get to grips with this hardest of Boulez' solo piano compositions, so if you only have one or two so far you definitely need this one - a bit crisper than Rosen (whose version anyway is marred by poor recording conditions) but some way less driven than Helffer.
The recorded sound is good and throughout the touch of the pianism is a pleasure. Warmly recommended.
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