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Customer reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
9
Chopin: Nocturnes
Format: Audio CD|Change
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on 26 April 2017
I bought the CD having read many rave reviews about Pollini's interpretation of these wonderful works to add to my increasingly large collection of Chopin Nocturn recordings. There are many aspects of this recording which I really like and clearly his playing is pretty amazing. However there are several times during the recordings when there is such a sudden and inappropriate change in dynamics (fortissimo) that in my opinion it completely destroys the mood and magic of Chopin. To me it seems completely out of place and I have not heard the Nocturnes played like this by anyone else. Such a shame. Am I alone in thinking this?
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on 7 December 2014
I think this double CD is a must, He play as a master and ear masterpiece from his fingers is one of the greatest pleasure for people love this man.
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on 17 November 2015
One of the best. It will remain a favourite.
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on 17 July 2012
If you never buy another piano recording, buy this and your life will change. I listen to a lot of piano music, a lot. I can point to what for me are some perfect performances - the greatest pianists fortunate to have been captured with crystal clear recordings. I think of Gilels playing Beethoven's Waldstein sonata, Horowitz playing Schumann's Kreisleriana in the New York Recordings and Berman playing Liszt's Années de pèlerinage. I think of Argerich playing Schumann second piano sonata, of Ovchinnikov playing Rachmaninov's Etudes-tableaux and more recently Osborne playing the Preludes and Alexeev the Morceaux de fantaisie, not to mention Ashkenazy playing the Rachmaninov sonatas or the Prokofiev piano concertos. I think of Lane playing the Scriabin Preludes and all Rogé's recordings of Debussy. But I really do not think anyone has done what Pollini (and Deutsche Grammophon) have produced here. This is the full ticket. This is one of the greatest pianists ever being able to reveal effortlessly the full beauty of these works and be captured so well that you practically feel you are in the same room, a room surely situated halfway to heaven. The few reviewers who mention as a detraction that the breathes of a super-human can be heard within the recording are so far from the point that they are not worth wasting one's own much humbler breath on. How could any serious appreciater of music hear these recordings and focus on that. Enjoy these recordings. They are the best of the best!!!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 10 September 2013
Pollini was late getting to the Nocturnes -- most of the Chopin for which he is famous was recorded in the 1960's and 1970's. This is from 2005, and it was worth the wait. Recorded in the Herkulessaal in Munich, it has a beautiful sound quality -- as Santa Fe Listener says (on American Amazon.com), perhaps as good piano sound as Pollini ever had from DGG. I've been listening to some of the pieces in direct comparison to performances by Arrau and Ashkenazy, and it has been marvelous to do so, because these other pianists are compelling too: you find yourself buying into their pacing and shaping of the music and just enjoying it, because they so confidently project what they see as the expressive hearts of the pieces. I'm delighted to have all three versions (and wish I had Rubinstein's, which I hear is very fine too). If I had to characterize Pollini's particular sound world, I would use words like lucid and airy. The left hand is not overdone, and he doesn't over-pedal, so everything is clear. At the same time, the right hand part is beautifully voiced, and the high notes are sweet, without a trace of glassiness from the recording. Arrau by contrast gives us a bit more bass weight and tends to be a tad slower, and Ashkenazy is sort of in-between, depending on the particular Nocturne. Interestingly, all of them see a touch of drama in the Nocturnes, tendencies to eruptive assertion that are quickly reined in and beauty is reasserted. Pollini's dynamic control is a particular pleasure too -- he never rattles the rafters, and yet within the restricted compass appropriate to the genre he finds all the light and shade he can. Great stuff!

NOTE: I had no hissing noises on my copies.
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on 10 August 2009
I wouldn't normally write a review of such an eminent recording, but to come on here and read two sub-five star reviews which complain about Pollini's breathing, I felt a moral duty to restore balance to the force.

This recording of the nocturnes does have audible breathing. It's not bad, it's there if you choose to focus on it, but it's not distracting.

The performances here are not just aristocratic, they are the very highest echelon of piano playing. They go to the nth degree of control, good taste, and depth.

They stand beside the early, early Rubinstein recordings on EMI. Jeez, I think they're much better, I say "beside" to appease the seemingly rowdy crowd.

Many people find Pollini's playing mean and diffident at first, and then in time they often find his recordings to be the greatest thing that ever occurred when a person, a piano, and a microphone were put in the same room.

Time is on his side.
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on 8 November 2009
This is an extraordinary recording, profound and emotional without being sentimental.

Different performers touch different listeners: for me, this makes familiar music sound new-minted and sometimes disturbing. It demands repeated listening, and each listening brings new pleasures.

Having listened to it on a range of different systems, from iPhone to full hifi, I'm mystified by the complaints of breathing and hissing. The sound has excellent presence, but listen to the music, and be transported....
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on 18 September 2006
The previous reviewer did not like the hissing. I likewise found this spoiled to some extent my enjoyment of this otherwise excellent disc. I found the noise,which is of course just Pollini breathing, most intrusive in the very first nocturne on disc one and less so on the second on disc one and the last on disc two.It is not really all that prominent elsewhere but might make one careful not to play at high volume. Still an engrossing disc and the pianism a little better than on my Moravec set and on a par with my Arrau set. Incidentally on Arrau's set on Philips the respiratory noises are very apparent- more than Pollini. Perhaps such is more likely as the performer ages and lung function deteriorates. I empathise with the other reviewer in as much as why in the 21st century can a recording not be made so breathing is not apparent. It is quite infuriating. This is also increasingly a problem on chamber music recordings eg The Lindsays Haydn Op 20. I wish music on record to exist untainted by any evidence it is being played by an emphysematous old man. If DG produced a modified version of Pollinis Nocturnes with the breathing removed I would quite happily purchase again.

Please note not all purchasers will find the recording as irritating as I do. Performances excellent. Most tracks OK.Why did Mr Pollini not object and re record the worst affected tracks? Five stars for the performance and one for the recording.
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on 27 March 2006
I look forward to hearing every release from Pollini with anticipation. In Op.9 No. 2, he repeatedly played the E Flat instead of E natural as the lower grace note at the end of the trill on the treble note F: and this is somewhat unusual. That aside, on the whole the playing is as expected from Pollini: solid, insightful and usually free of idiosyncrasies. It is perhaps unfashionable nowadays to over romanticise Chopin and his music, but the poetic feeling is there.

Throughout the two discs, there are distinct, intermittent, albeit occurring at irregular intervals, low level background hissing noise of short duration. The first occurrence of this begins as early as in Disc 1, 0'34 and within the first minute there are several episodes. I find it quite distracting, much more so than Glenn Gould's famous humming in his Bach. The noise can be heard on different hi-fi systems. Surely this is not something to be expected in a modern (2005) recording.

Compared to other sets, I still prefer Artur Rubinstein's not quite complete set on RCA. Maria João Pires (also on DG) is also worth listening to, but I find her bold and at times explosive eruptions a bit too much. On individual nocturnes, Evgeny Kissin's live recording of Op. 27 Nos. 1 and 2 (on RCA) are very memorable.

The low score awarded here reflects the sound.

UPDATE IN FEB 2013:
I have noticed a steady stream of negative votes presumably from Pollini fans as nobody cared to explain why. Other reviewers on Amazon.com who said similar things got the same or worse treatment. If you cannot hear the noise or have not found it to be distracting that's fine.

It is now obvious it is loud breathing. It is no secret Pollini is a smoker. It is also present in his later Mozart concertos CD in 2006 and his Brahms concerto No. 1 re-make although overall it seems to be less prominent than in this set. It is commented on by one reviewer in the Brahms on Amazon.com, under the review title: "Concerto for deep breathing and piano": 'Pollini's heavy breathing is often in competion with the music, a hallmark of "late" Pollini'. (the URL will be posted in the comments section).

I did inform DG in 2006 before posting this review but got no official response. It is quite possible that they have quietly re-mastered the discs without directly admitting there was a problem but I doubt it as other reviewers on Amazon.com have heard the same more recently.

I have re-examined the issue and I can still hear the hiss, this time playing the CD on the computer. I have captured one example from Nocturne No. 1 in B-flat and displayed the waveform graphically on the computer. The URL of the image file will be posted in the comments section. I have also included the same two bars of the score on the same image and marked where the key notes in the right hand correspond to the waveform. You can see where the noise is clearly in bar 14 after the E natural.

I now emphatically add: performance: 5/5 and recording: 2/5. I never said avoid it and piano and Chopin collectors and Pollini fans would buy it anyway. It is still well worth listening to. For a noise free modern set I'll listen to Yundi (Li) on EMI.
23 people found this helpful
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