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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable and distinguished Chopin!, March 13, 2009
This review is from: Ivan Moravec Plays Chopin (Audio CD)
Ivan Moravec's sheer devotion for rescuing the most penetrating facets of Chopin's piano pieces has made me think and rethink not only about the sublime grandness of the most beloved musical son of Poland. Moravec consecrated a good part of his huge musical genius to get into the last frontiers of these well known pieces with surprising results.

The First ballad for instance, receives a thoughtful and refined treatment where I.M. dissects the piece to carve in relief the nestled epic and lyric poetry bellow the score.

But the most emblematic pieces in this invaluable CD are the Fourth ballad, the Mazurka in A minor and Barcarolle Op. 60 (my desert island choices, by far).

Moravec must be included among the most respectable and heavy weight champions around Chopin's piano music. He has not fully received the well deserved acknowledgement as one of the most extraordinary pianists of the Century, so my dear reader, don't think it over and make yourself a special favor: acquire as soon as possible this thousand carats recording, before someone else does it for you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, even among Moravec's discs, August 1, 2013
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This review is from: Ivan Moravec Plays Chopin (Audio CD)
This disc couples together recordings made in 1965 and 1968, both in the Mozart Hall in Vienna. The recordings offer full range and depth of tone that is very impressive for the age and which do full justice to the power of Moravec's conception of the Ballades and the gentleness of the Mazurka. The Barcarolle is equally well served.

Moravec has a reputation as something of a Chopin specialist and anyone listening to this disc will readily understand why. The explosive moments, and there are many, in the ballades have a power and drive that have seldom been matched but without the slightest sign of aggression or percussiveness. This is a remarkable combination. The more reflective passages, and again there are many, are treated with the utmost gentleness and loving care. It is hard to describe the special nature of such comprehensive, spectacular yet sympathetically caring playing. The five following Mazurkas are simply meltingly beautiful with an all pervasive and gentle sense of the dance and absolutely nothing to do with any form of showmanship. These are personal statements and are a wonderful example of Moravec's very special art. They lead into a deeply satisfying recording of the Barcarolle.

There are many alternative example of this music in my collection by world renowned pianists, all of whom deserve to be considered as such. However, even in such company, this disc still stands out as something very special indeed. If I were to own just one of the Moravec discs it would be this one - probably!

To conclude, I would suggest that this disc deserves to be on every wish list of potential Chopin purchases regardless of whether the purchaser is looking for a single option or is considering adding to a larger library.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moravec plays Chopin, December 21, 2010
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This review is from: Ivan Moravec Plays Chopin (Audio CD)
For people like me who usually prefer Early Music, Ivan Moravec's Chopin is a revelation. His phrasing of Chopin is exquisite not overwrought, and there seems to be no no possibility of the piano's sound and dynamics that he does not explore.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars (+) Pretty Perfect Playing, but still Incomplete Ballades, January 18, 2009
This review is from: Ivan Moravec Plays Chopin (Audio CD)
INTRODUCTION: My extensive review traversal of the four Chopin Ballades has now reached the troika of truly great renditions--Moravec, Ohlsson and Demidenko. To me, these four independently conceived pieces make up among the greatest of treasures to be found in the entire piano repertoire. I don't expect to find an altogether complete realisation from any one pianist; Moravec, though, does a pretty good job at approaching the 'perfect' version.

REFERENCES: Demidenko (Chopin: Ballades; Third Sonata); Ohlsson (Garrick Ohlsson - The Complete Chopin Piano Works Vol. 3 - Ballades)

Moravec belongs to the very few pianists who possesses the rare ability to recreate Chopin's ingenious piano scores and attain something unique and memorable but still perfectly natural. His Nocturnes and Mazurkas are about as great as we can expect to hear them played by a human being--only Ohlsson, who is something of a soul mate with Moravec, reaches even slightly further ahead.

Moravec's Ballades were recorded in 1965 at the Vienna Konzerthaus on a very good-sounding Bösendorfer instrument--also in this respect he shares Ohlsson's view on how Chopin's sound world should be realised. Originally released on the Connoisseur Society label, the current incarnation is a reissue from Supraphon--also being offered as part of a 4-disc compilation (Ivan Moravec Plays (Box Set)).

So, why then only four stars? Two reasons: Moravec partly lacks the dramatic energy needed to squeeze out the last degree of tension and poetry (the A-minor 'tsunami' sections of the Second are particularly telling examples). In addition to that, he is completely let down by the recorded sound in the Fourth Ballade, making it sound distant and thin--indeed unforgivable in one of the supreme piano masterpieces, all the more so as Moravec's performance is one of the most complete we've had. This is really a mystery as the rest of the disc boasts rather excellent sound quality for being recorded more than 40 years ago. On the credit side, his First Ballade must count amongst the most delicately sustained renditions ever committed to disc; also the Third is unusually gorgeously done.

The fillers are made up of five masterfully played Mazurkas--Op 50/3 and Op 17/4 in particular--as well as the F-sharp major Barcarolle. Again, the luxurious tapestries of sound haven't been presented with more imaginative detail and colour by any other pianist--more than warranting the additional plus. What Moravec only lacks is the marginally more natural impetus that permeates Ohlsson's best Chopin playing.

TIMINGS: Ballades--10:06, 7:37, 7:48, 11:56; Barcarolle--9:25; etc
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Ivan Moravec Plays Chopin
Ivan Moravec Plays Chopin by F. Chopin (Audio CD - 2002)
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