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Chopin: 4 Ballades. Prelude Noan Import

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Import
  • ASIN: B00005FJ64
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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By HJK VINE VOICE on 30 May 2010
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I wanted a CD with all 4 Ballades on the same CD, I have others with 1 and 2. I am very pleased with this one but then it is Chopin and I just love his music.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x8cfde9fc) out of 5 stars 23 reviews
31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8b09fa74) out of 5 stars Making a case for Pollini in the Ballades? 31 Oct. 2005
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Piano recitals tend to bring out good reviewers here at Amazon, but Pollini's Chopin Ballades haven't been well described yet. Each reviewer seems to have strong thumbs-up or thumbs-down opinions. They declare that Pollini is either in top form or has lost his touch completely.

As to the bare facts, Pollini plays all these works faster than the norm--Kissin, who recorded the Ballades in 1998 (RCA), roughly contemporaneous with this 1999 DG release, takes a full minute more for each piece, and Emanuel Ax, in his excellent 1990 RCA release, is almost as slow.

Pollini plays a rich-toned instrument caught close up. There is no air around the piano, which accentuates his intensity--these are forthright, urgent readings with a minimum of gentle rubato compared with other Chopin specialists like Rubinstein and Moravec. Among more recent versions, Kissin is also recorded closely on a fine-sounding instrument, although not of this caliber. Ax is given average sound with no special delight in the piano's sonorities.

Pollini doesn't intrude with an overt display of personal expression in lyrical sections. For some listeners this disqualifies him, since Chopin playing going back to the age of Paderewski, Rachmaninov, and Cortot has used the score as a starting point for the pianist's own extempore inspirations in tempo, phrasing, and emotional display. Pollini interpretss the Ballades as heroic, somewhat extroverted pieces--much closer to Beethoven than we usually hear. He is careful to avoid sounding nonchalant, informal, dainty, improvisatory, or fussy. In short, Pollini doesn't re-compose the music.

Kissin also plays the Ballades as big-boned, heroic pieces, but he uses more individual expression than Pollini--he slows down as much as he wants in order to give his expressive touches free rein. Fortunately, his persoanl ideas are very convincing and musicl. Ax is passionately romantic, especially in the first Ballade, and in addition has a remarkable control over rubato--he's the overlooked contender here.

So, what is the case for Pollini in particular? Anyone who has heard this pianist live knows that he relies not at all on charm or superficial appeal. One is expected to sit up and pay close attention to Pollini's extraordinary ability to carry a piece straight through, in one intense arc of concentration. He uses his right and left hands so independently that there is never an accompaniment--something important is happening in one or both hands at every second. The overall result is mesmerizing--he has a hypnotic effect on audiences, in common with Michelangeli. If you want to be riveted in a breathtaking sweep from first note to last, no one excels Pollini in these works.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8b13e048) out of 5 stars BRAVO POLLINI 13 Oct. 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Pollini has put out a number of only so-so discs in recent years. Not this time. This is the very definition of white-hot, and dramatic, colorful, emotional. What happened to him? Either he was recorded on one of the most superb weeks of his life, or he's newly in love.
These direct, inspired performances aren't emotionally cold (like his Chopin Scherzi) or hard and ugly in tone (like his earlier Chopin Sonatas) or wimpy (like his recent Brahms Concerti). Instead, they combine rainbow colors, startling tenderness, and his typical volcanic forcefulness in a uniquely rich and deep blend.
This CD replaced my Perahia Chopin Ballades CD (why have only the letter when you can have the letter *and* the spirit?), it makes Pletnev sound jejune (in the Fantasy), and the Prelude makes Wagner's Liebestod sound like an also-ran.
The only problem is with the recording: the piano seems closely miked, and I thought I detected some "spotlighting" at the end of the Fantasy. But there are no bad edits (as there were in the Scherzi disc), and this is *not* recorded with DG's "4-D" process, and we hear gorgeous depth in the tone. Bravo to Pollini for his standout achievement, a magical disc.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8afff1f8) out of 5 stars Did he wait too long?? 26 Sept. 2000
By Florian - Published on
Format: Audio CD
The Ballades were the only large Chopin works missing from Pollini's recordings. My feeling is that he waited until he felt ready (by his standards) to record them. I think he knew that some of the criticism towards his playing (cold) was somewhat true, especially at the beginning of his career. I noticed that his style has become more and more poetic over the years, with an enlarged color palette, which made his overall playing more complete. That's exactly what we hear in this recording. The interpretation is great, he truly grasps the spirit of those pieces like he would never have been able to do 20 years ago. Unfortunately, I realized that while his playing has finally become musically perfect, his once legendary technique has lost some of its precision. I was sad to hear that there were some uneven passages and minor slips here and there. Nevertheless, the playing is so beautiful that I don't mind those minor imperfections. Besides, his technique is still quite impressing, despite those little details. Actually, this is overall the best recording I've heard of the Ballades (much more poetic and touching than Zimerman, and so much better overall than poor Kissin's recording). So my answer to the question is NO, he did't wait too long, but that was close;)
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8b197d50) out of 5 stars Unexpected delight from recent Pollini 4 Nov. 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Audio CD
After getting disappointed with recordings from Pollini in recent years, this new recording turned out be an unexpected delight from him.
Everything here is played with a sustained tension and passion, which does not sound superficial or forced at all, unlike his Chopin Scherzos.
In particular, I am truly moved by Ballade No.4 and Fantasie. We now know a lot of performers who can play Ballade No.4 as technically precisely as him, but rarely know them who can play it with such an emotional integrity. Also, Fantasie is maybe the most highly-charged performance I've ever heard.
How can you miss this?
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8b446618) out of 5 stars An Important Release 16 Dec. 1999
By blue-59 - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Like the best oral interpreters of poetry, Maurizio Pollini respects great art but, with his prodigious technique and musical intellect, does not fear it. As a result, he is always worth hearing, whether or not one ultimately agrees with his statement. On this disc, Pollini gives us revelatory performances of warhorses that have long been well served in the catalogue. He articulates the right hand clearly--so important in Chopin--but manages to do so without dryness, and lets the music relax when it should. Even so, these are high-voltage renditions that will have some listeners wishing for a little less energy at times. Pollini's "storm" sequences in the F major Ballade are superb, and his beautiful clarity in the last pages of the Ab major is most welcome, as is his aristocratic bearing in the F minor, notably in the coda. The real gem on this disc, however, may be the C# minor Prelude. This is no throw-in or filler: Pollini imbues it with stunning impetus and energy and displays insights that would make this disc valuable even if nothing else were on it. The Fantaisie is very well done. The recorded sound is fine, with none of the bass shyness or treble hardness of Pollini's early DGG efforts. Pollini's fingers--yes, Pollini's--don't quite depress all the notes in a couple of places toward the end of the G minor Ballade, but a unified and coherent if slightly imperfect performance beats tape-spliced perfection any time.
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