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on 25 May 2012
Pires plays Chopin's 21 Nocturnes most beautifully. She brings out the languid feeling of the pieces. The light and shade of the nuance are expressed very well.

She uses rubato judiciously and effectively. When rubato is done with genuine artistry - as in the case of Pires - the effect shows an admirable sense of freedom and spontaneity.

I have always liked Rubinstein's recordings made in the mid-1960s (in his late years). But, he plays only 19 pieces, missing out the two last pieces published posthumously. Pires plays them - particularly No.20 in C sharp minor - beautifully.

The digital recording, made in the mid-1990s, is warm and most realistic. This 2-CD set is highly recommendable.
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on 29 October 2001
Pires' interpretations are really stunning, whether you are listening to her Mozart, Schumann or Schubert, or her Chopin. She captures more emotion, more grace, than any other pianist I have heard. And I have heard the nocturnes by so many of our great pianists -- Arrau, Barenboim, Novaes to name a few. Pires has a different approach, a kindness to her touch on the piano, that fluffs out these noctures, filling them with a patience, an adoration, that has not been recorded before. The fluidity and style comes not just from Pires' fingers but from her heart, and what you get is a rich evocation not just of Chopin's notes on the paper but of his own heart and mind. These are not your typical, textbook interpretation. If you want that, I suggest the very nice Barenboim. But if you've heard these works many times before and want a change, something different, something fuller and more romantic, tender as well as subtlely powerful, do try this Pires. You will hear the nocturnes as you have never heard them before -- perhaps even think that these are new, undiscovered works, they differ so delightfully from others' recordings. This collection is far superior to any of her predecessors', and I would think that years from now she'll be admired as having delivered a classic performance on these CDs.
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on 23 February 2014
Maria Joao Pires has a great reputation playing Chopin and this recording of all 21 of his Nocturnes shows us why. Her refined and sparkling technique really brings out the detail in all these Nocturnes and got me to appreciate ones I didn't know so well. I have already heard her live in Glasgow playing Chopin's two Piano Concertos and was quite taken with her beautiful playing. As well as purchasing recordings of those Piano Concertos I just had to get the Nocturnes too. I would recommend you do the same.
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These discs, recorded in 1995 and 1996, provide a real alternative type of interpretation to those of Rubinstein or Ashkenazy to name but two of the considerable number of fine pianists recorded in this repertoire. The recording is sensitive and appropriate to the performances.

Most strikingly there is more rubato applied to the music than either of the two pianists named above. This, coupled with a generally forward moving pace, creates a marked sense that this is a set of almost improvisatory performances. The improvisatory feel to the performances however seems to be a totally natural outcome of the playing and not simply imposed upon the music by formula. This stops any sense of cloying additional emotionalism. Pires also employs a somewhat gentle touch throughout, which is not to say the the more forceful passages lack appropriate power. The performances produce a sense of affectionate warmth which is both attractive and convincing. The scale of the performances is quite intimate when compared with others.

One of the others could be Ashkenazy whose performances are altogether more architectural and conceived on a bigger emotional scale altogether. There is no doubt that there is more 'steel' in his finger-work so to speak and the tempos are kept more stable than Pires with far less rubato applied. Once more, there is no sense of overplaying the emotional content however and this too makes for a very satisfying experience. His recording is more 'present' to match the larger concept which is more of a concert hall approach in its effect as compared to the more intimate Pires.

Rubinstein goes even further along the road of intimacy with the sense that this has been recorded with a small room in mind, rather a chamber music approach. Rubinstein also keeps the rubato in check and his approach is by far the coolest of the three. Every note is clearly defined and, to quote other sources, it can be likened to a row of perfectly formed pearls set before us to admire and appreciate. Rubinstein's recording is rather closely balanced and still has a touch of woodenness about it despite the clear improvements made since LP days and early CDs.

There are three fine choices available here but all quite different. I would suggest that all three warrant very serious consideration for any potential purchaser and all three are capable of giving considerable satisfaction. Choosing the favoured discs may be a matter of assessing ideas of warmth, coolness, scale of performance (intimate up to larger) and the degrees of rubato leading to improvisatory or architectural impressions that would be most agreeable to individual taste.
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on 21 April 2010
This year of 2010 is the commemorative year of the 200th anniversary of FRYDERYK CHOPIN's birth (or, in french, FRÉDÉRIC CHOPIN), the famous, beloved and sophisticated polish Composer and Pianist.

In the Chopin's world, among the very great pianists, ARTUR RUBINSTEIN is a legend. "Chopin" - wrote him in one's own hand - "was a genius of universal appeal. His music conquers the most diverse audiences. When the first notes of Chopin sound through the concert hall there is a happy sigh of recognition".[...]"When I play Chopin I know I speak directly to the hearts of people!" ["The Chopin Collection", RCA Red Seal, in the booklet of "The Ballades" & "The Scherzos" (complete), and on others of the collection].
Another legendary pianist of this world is CLAUDIO ARRAU (on PHILIPS label).
They are indispensable models (references).
Also SVIATOSLAV RICHTER is a powerful example (Philips, "The Authorised Recordings"; DECCA, "20th Century Piano Works", and Regis).
But, among the alived ones, we found very distinguished Chopin performers: MARTHA ARGUERICH (DG and EMI), MAURIZIO POLLINI (DG), MARIA JOÃO PIRES (DG, Erato), VLADIMIR ASHKENAZY (DECCA), DANIEL BARENBOIM (DG), KRYSTIAN ZIMERMAN (DG), EVGENY KISSIN (RCA Red Seal), MURRAY PRAHIA (SONY - But, in my opinion, his "Ballades" and "Etudes" are excessively valued by "Gramophone")...

To pay homage to the composer FRYDERYK CHOPIN, I search for a disc in my library. The choose is not easy. I opt for the "NOCTURNES" by the portuguese pianist MARIA JOÃO PIRES. [Chopin developed and increased, at a highest degree, the "Nocturnes" of its pioneer JOHN FIELD (on NAXOS label), the delightful irish composer and pianist].
The CHOPIN's "NOCTURNES" are magnificent and magnetic works.
A necklace of 21 pearls.

There are no adjectives to qualify the performance of Maria João Pires.
"No moon in the sky ever length such a glow..." (from the song "Woman in Love").
Poetic, glamourous, with splendour, the piano sings under her fingers. And sings marvellousely.
The sound is truly wonderful, with an astonishing clearness and amazing purity.
The recording is magnificent, assisted to all the contemporary technology.

"Maria João Pires [is] among the most eloquent master-musicians of our time" ("Gramophone").
Or, paraphrasing A. Rubinstein, Maria João Pires "speaks directly to the hearts of people!".

These discs are essential in any classical music's library.
Total playing time: 50'29 (disc 1) + 58'42 (disc 2); 4D - DDD; "Deutsche Grammophon" - 2 CDs; Published in 1996.
The box set, with a beautiful cover, also includes a very good booklet (with a worthy cover - see above), in english, germany, french, italian and spanish.
The music have no frontiers.

ONOFRE MOREIRA (PORTUGAL)
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on 21 March 2005
Pires' Nocturnes are beautifully nuanced and controlled. She understands the late-night poetry of this music more than any other pianist I've heard, and DG's stunning sound only enhances the pleasure of this set. If you only need one Chopin record it's this one.
0Comment| 16 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
These discs, recorded in 1995 and 1996, provide a real alternative type of interpretation to those of Rubinstein or Ashkenazy to name but two of the considerable number of fine pianists recorded in this repertoire. The recording is sensitive and appropriate to the performances.

Most strikingly there is more rubato applied to the music than either of the two pianists named above. This, coupled with a generally forward moving pace, creates a marked sense that this is a set of almost improvisatory performances. The improvisatory feel to the performances however seems to be a totally natural outcome of the playing and not simply imposed upon the music by formula. This stops any sense of cloying additional emotionalism. Pires also employs a somewhat gentle touch throughout, which is not to say the the more forceful passages lack appropriate power. The performances produce a sense of affectionate warmth which is both attractive and convincing. The scale of the performances is quite intimate when compared with others.

One of the others could be Ashkenazy whose performances are altogether more architectural and conceived on a bigger emotional scale altogether. There is no doubt that there is more 'steel' in his finger-work so to speak and the tempos are kept more stable than Pires with far less rubato applied. Once more, there is no sense of overplaying the emotional content however and this too makes for a very satisfying experience. His recording is more 'present' to match the larger concept which is more of a concert hall approach in its effect as compared to the more intimate Pires.

Rubinstein goes even further along the road of intimacy with the sense that this has been recorded with a small room in mind, rather a chamber music approach. Rubinstein also keeps the rubato in check and his approach is by far the coolest of the three. Every note is clearly defined and, to quote other sources, it can be likened to a row of perfectly formed pearls set before us to admire and appreciate. Rubinstein's recording is rather closely balanced and still has a touch of woodenness about it despite the clear improvements made since LP days and early CDs.

There are three fine choices available here but all quite different. I would suggest that all three warrant very serious consideration for any potential purchaser and all three are capable of giving considerable satisfaction. Choosing the favoured discs may be a matter of assessing ideas of warmth, coolness, scale of performance (intimate up to larger) and the degrees of rubato leading to improvisatory or architectural impressions that would be most agreeable to individual taste.

Finally it should be mentioned that DGG have now issued this recording at a lower price point.
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on 5 February 2011
Having read the other reviews, I see that these performances are controversial. I find myself firmly on the "pro" side. Chopin has never been a favourite composer of mine, but these interpretations of the Nocturnes have done what those of Ashkenazy, Argerich, Vasary and Pizarro (good though they all are) have not: convinced me of the greatness of Chopin. In her hands he is up there with Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart and Schubert.

There is something about her interpretations that just convinces me at least that her view of this music is right. And if you don't know them listen to some of her Mozart, Bach or Schumann recordings, or the Brahms violin sonatas with Augustin Dumay. (I don't enthuse about her Schubert, so don't think I'm an uncritical worshipper.)

DG's recording is, as usual, first-class, and if you want to demonstrate your hi-fi, you may choose to use one of these CDs.
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on 30 October 2013
Maria Joao Pires' interpretations of piano music by Chopin and Schubert are among the most integrated and emotionally charged I have heard in my life.
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on 8 October 2013
Brilliant pianist playing my favourite music. How anyone can play with such mastery is beyond me. I intend
To buy more of her work in future.
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