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Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 1 in Em/ Variations, Op. 2

Charles MacKerras , Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment , Emanuel Ax Audio CD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Performer: Emanuel Ax
  • Orchestra: Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
  • Conductor: Charles MacKerras
  • Audio CD (March 16, 1999)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sony Records
  • ASIN: B00000I9G7
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #193,576 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Concerto No. 1 For Piano And Orchstra In E Minor, Op. 11: I. Allegro maestoso
2. Concerto No. 1 For Piano And Orchstra In E Minor, Op. 11: II. Romanze. Larghetto
3. Concerto No. 1 For Piano And Orchstra In E Minor, Op. 11: III. Rondo. Vivace
4. Grande Valse brillante In A Minor (Lento), Op. 34, No. 2
5. Variations On 'La ci darem la mano,' Op. 2 For Piano And Orchestra: I. Introduction - Largo - Poco piu mosso; II. - VI. Variation I-V

Editorial Reviews

In his second volume of Chopin on a mid-19th-century Érard, Ax continues to demonstrate both the qualities of the instrument and his own artistry. The best test of the disc is the second movement of the concerto, in which Ax makes the Érard sing, plays with artistic flexibility and taste, and interacts beautifully and convincingly with the period-instrument orchestra. (Chopin's often-maligned orchestration sounds better than usual with these instruments.) Ax turns the waltz into a miniature tone poem in an exquisite performance. The early variations, which led Schumann to proclaim Chopin a genius, sound like fluff today, but these players make it entertaining. This disc is both an artistic experience and a musical education. --Leslie Gerber

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Genuine Magic July 9, 2007
If you like your Chopin pianism percussive, or even merely aggressive, this CD is not for you. The 1851 instrument has a gentle and rarified sound, and a fortissimo here can't be compared with the results of a rabid assault on a contemporary Steinway or Bosendorfer.

The performance overall is fairly loose-limbed, a surprise from Mackerras who usually errs on the side of trim efficiency. I do not consider the relaxed tempi a result of sleepwalking, but rather a reaction to the bell-like resonance of the keyboard sound. Often musicians will slow down if the beauty of their work surprises them, to prolong and deepen the happiness, and that's my explanation for what happens on this CD.

This is a great second version of the concerto to own. It will force you to reexamine a lot of your assumptions about Chopin, unless of course your temperament does not allow for such things.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Great Chopin Recording From Ax, Mackerras Et Al. December 19, 2001
Emanuel Ax follows up his excellent performance of Chopin's 2nd Piano Concerto with this splendid version of the first concerto, which again is also performed on a vintage 1851 Erard piano. Just as he did with the first concerto, Ax is content to give an understated performance, that is still replete with drama. It is one which certainly works well on this instrument. Again, he is superbly backed by Mackerras and the period instrument ensemble Orchestra Of The Age Of Enlightenment. Those who prefer Argerich's dramatic interpretations may find this recording a bit of a disappointment. However, I think Ax's interpretation is as valid as hers. Once more, the sound quality is exceptional.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Egad! The earlier reviewer is full of garbage! May 20, 2001
By A Customer
Ax has, in my estimation, a brilliance for being subtle. His playing won't jump out and smack you upside the head (such as Kempff's playing does to me) - you have to be paying attention. His playing will provide the listener with sheer delight to the sense, if the senses are tuned into what he is doing.
This CD is no exception. Although is all-around great, the most shining gem on this CD is the second movement of the Chopin Concerto. Here, Ax does an exceptionally brilliant interpretation - and he is backed by an orchestra wonderfully sympathetic to his style of playing. He doesn't "jump out," and neither do that (they couldn't anyways; they're on period instruments).
But don't just take my word for it - buy it and hear it yourself! ...this CD is a delight. More than that, it's fun!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful recording on an historic piano January 2, 2008
I rushed to buy this disk after hearing an hour long radio program in which Emmanuel Ax discussed the conerto in detail, playing excerpts of this recording, alongside those by Martha Argerich and Ivo Pogorelich. I would have been very pleased to own any of these interpretations, but found this one,played on a smaller piano with a very different sound from the huge modern concert instruments, particularly rewarding. I also highly recommend Ax's series "the Concerto According to Manny", a CBC 12 disk production from CBC RAdio Two, which discusses many of the great piano concerti.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Verified Purchase
Some ten years back - as the musical world commemorated then 150 years from the death of the Polish composer - Sony Classical released two wonderful CDs comprising Chopin works for piano and orchestra. First class performers were involved in the project: pianist Emanuel Ax, conductor Sir Charles Mackerras and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.

In order to enhance the result of these recordings with regard to sound qualities and stylistic adequacy, a special historical piano was sought after and finally employed. Namely, an Erard produced in 1851 in London and kept in good shape at the University of Birmingham, in England. The liner notes in the accompanying booklet -, signed by the pianist, writer, music critic and `musical archeologist' John Bell Young - competently establish the historical context and the romantic atmosphere in which Chopin composed the pieces performed here and emphasize particular features of the chosen instrument for these recordings. Young even quotes Emanuel Ax who praised `this dulcet' Eratrd's sound richness, its dynamical range and interpretive valences and commented on the orchestral textures in Chopin's output.

By listening to this CD, one gets enraptured by Emanuel Ax's pleasure of playing such a wonderful music on this very special Erard with its differences between bass and treble, favoring improvisational abilities of the soloist, his taste for rubato and graceful touch. His fabulous technical skills and unmatched musicality are wonderfully highlighted in the daring opening movement of the E minor Concerto or in that heartfelt and sweet paraphrase after `La ci darem la mano'.

I discovered with true enchantment these recordings now when the musical world celebrates 200 years from Chopin's birth. I consider them a compelling, illuminating and reassuring Chopin interpretation. Recommended!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Verified Purchase
My main gripe with this CD is that Track 5 starts not at the beginning of the Variations on La Ci Darem La Mano, but halfway through. It's definitely a fault, but I don't know whther it just affects my CD or all CDs of this particular recording. I considered returning it, but would miss it too much, so I have to put up with the inconvenience of listening to the rather soporific rendition of Walz No 3 if I want to catch the beginning of the Variations. This beginning, is actually a bit of a snore itself, but then Ax gets going to produce some fireworks towards the end. On balance, I consider Nikolai Demidenko's performance of these Variations (without orchestral accompani,ment) to be far superior to Ax's.

Another "gripe" is that the abovementioned Walz No 3 (or Op 34 No 2, to be precise) is erroneously called "Grand Valse Brillante" on the cover!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars and we can now hear what he might of actually sounded like, with a...
07-08-2014 Plying a 1844 ******** ***** piano here re Emanuel Ax nd Sir Charles Mackerras with the Orchestr of the Age of Enlightnment on Sony Records with the Pino Concerto in e... Read more
Published 2 months ago by NUC MED TECH
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow!
Ax just buries any doubt that he is a piano great. I've played these recordings so much that my wife thought that there was something wrong with the CD player - stuck on repeat! Read more
Published 11 months ago by Biggar Thomas
5.0 out of 5 stars Great recording!
This is a great pianist, a great composer, a great conductor, and just a very wonderful experience to listen to!
Published 20 months ago by John Stuelpnagel
5.0 out of 5 stars Chopin: piano concerto no 1
I own ths cd and it has the most incredible music on it.
Published on November 28, 2000
2.0 out of 5 stars Beware!
I heard Emanuel Ax play the Chopin Concerto No. 1 in concert. It was stunning. I immediately bought this CD, hoping it would replicate the experience. Read more
Published on November 16, 2000
Period instruments aside, I doubt you could find a more metronomic, sleep-walking rendition of Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 1, Op. 11 than this. I was a bit shocked, actually. Read more
Published on October 11, 2000 by Melvyn M. Sobel
5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging!
The only album of recent release that I have heard that is more engaging than Ax's masterpiece is John McArthur's, "HIDDEN. Read more
Published on February 19, 2000
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