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Chopin: 26 Preludes

5.0 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (5 Aug. 1987)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • ASIN: B00000E32T
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 83,174 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

ARGERICH MARTHA

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On this CD Martha Argerich plays all 26 Preludes by Chopin plus the delicious Barcarolle, the Polonaise No6 and Scherzo No2.The TT is 62"21.The sound throughout is good,despite being recorded in the 1960s and 70s[the Preludes in 1977].There is no qualms about the sound quality.
The performances by Argerich are superb,particularly in the Preludes.These vary in mood from stormy to serene,from powerful to gentle and Argerich captures the mood to perfection.She also plays the other pieces extremely well,again capturing the diverse mood of each one.
I also have the preludes,which are my favourite Chopin pieces, played by Garrick Ohlsen,Dmitri Alexeev and Rafal Blechacz and they bring their own personality to the music ,but if I had to choose just one version,it would be this CD from Martha Argerich with the other excellent pieces included on it.
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This disc contains performances from Argerich at her most volatile and inspirational. The Preludes and the Scherzo dates from the 1970s and the remainder of the disc date from the 1960s. The whole program has been remastered and the sound thus achieved is no cause for concern. The performances themselves are from a time when Argerich was still in her youth and they give no quarter in terms of being emotionally super-charged. In the hands of lesser pianists some may describe these types of interpretations as impetuous but that suggests a lack of previous thought. In this case these performances, which are certainly emotionally driven and at white heat, betray no such casualness. Instead the impression gained is that of intense emotionalism intensely controlled.

The Preludes are delivered as if one sustained piece with very little pause between one and the next. Chopin wrote them all as a complete unit which was unusual for him. Most of his collected works as bought today (sets of Scherzi, Nocturnes, Impromptus, Mazurkas etc.) were written individually throughout his life and were never intended to be played as complete sets. The Preludes were different though and that is very much how Argerich plays them - as a stream of continuous inspiration.

In general terms there is an emphasis on forwardly moving tempi, some considerably faster than normal. This is most true when a faster piece follows on without any pause from the previous piece so that they become emotionally joined. This seems perfectly acceptable when so many of these preludes are so fragmentary and benefit by being so joined.
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Have always appreciated Chopin's Nocturnes and Préludes for their peaceful and introspective qualities, and had the Naxos CDs of both - just for, you know, to have them. Naxos are to be credited for making Classical more accessible to the general public, particularly if one wants some piece heard in a film or television drama. My first was Mozart's 'Gran Partita' Serenade for 12 Wind Instruments and basso continuo,' for the adagio, as Salieri (F. Murray Abraham) recounts in tortured rapture how he found himself "staring through the bars of an Absolute beauty" during AMADEUS. However, if you want more emotion and 'feeling' from your Classical, you'll need to look beyond Naxos for one of the more prominent virtuosi.

Again, it was film/television that delivered the 'hook,' during THE WEST WING episode 'Han,' in which a closely-watched by his paranoid minders young North Korean wishes to defect to the West, but is told in hushed tones by President Bartlet (Martin Sheen) during rehearsal why the timing is awkward due to behind-the-scenes nuclear disarmament talks. The saddened Korean then plays a different, slower piece whilst trying to explain the Korean word 'han,' a concept that translates poorly into English, but (as Bartlet later explains to C.J. and the viewers), "There is no literal English translation. It's a state of mind. Of soul, really. Of sadness. A sadness so deep no tears will come. And yet, still, there is hope ..." That piece (Chopin's Prélude No. 4 in E minor, Op. 28) could not have been better-chosen to accompany the scene. I had to have it.

But just 'any old disc' with the piece on it would not do. I wanted to be able to sit back, stare into the middle distance or at the ceiling, and just be absorbed by the emotion.
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