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Chopin: Complete Mazurkas Vol.2 Import

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Import, January 12, 2010
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Editorial Reviews

To celebrate the 200th anniversary of Chopin's birth, Hyperion has excerpted some of the finest performances from Garrick Ohlsson's complete Chopin project, originally recorded for the Arabesque label and reissued on Hyperion as a 16-CD boxed set. These discs include some of the finest contemporary Chopin playing and include definitive performances of the complete etudes and mazurkas.

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Mazurkas (3) for piano, Op. 50, CT. 80-82: Mazurka in G major, Op. 50/1
  2. Mazurkas (3) for piano, Op. 50, CT. 80-82: Mazurka in A flat major, Op. 50/2
  3. Mazurkas (3) for piano, Op. 50, CT. 80-82: Mazurka in C sharp minor, Op. 50/3
  4. Mazurkas (3) for piano, Op. 56, CT. 83-85: Mazurka in B major, Op. 56/1
  5. Mazurkas (3) for piano, Op. 56, CT. 83-85: Mazurka in C major, Op. 56/2
  6. Mazurkas (3) for piano, Op. 56, CT. 83-85: Mazurka in C minor, Op. 56/3
  7. Mazurkas (3) for piano, Op. 59, CT. 86-88: Mazurka in A minor, Op. 59/1
  8. Mazurkas (3) for piano, Op. 59, CT. 86-88: Mazurka in A flat major, Op. 59/2
  9. Mazurkas (3) for piano, Op. 59, CT. 86-88: Mazurka in F sharp minor, Op. 59/3
  10. Mazurkas (3) for piano, Op. 63, CT. 89-91: Mazurka in B major, Op. 63/1
  11. Mazurkas (3) for piano, Op. 63, CT. 89-91: Mazurka in F minor, Op. 63/2
  12. Mazurkas (3) for piano, Op. 63, CT. 89-91: Mazurka in C sharp minor, Op. 63/3
  13. Mazurka for piano in A minor ('Notre temps'), KK IIb/4, CT. 105 (B. 134)
  14. Mazurkas (4) for piano, Op. 67, CT. 92-95: Mazurka in G major, Op. 67/1
  15. Mazurkas (4) for piano, Op. 67, CT. 92-95: Mazurka in G minor, Op. 67/2
  16. Mazurkas (4) for piano, Op. 67, CT. 92-95: Mazurka in C major, Op. 67/3
  17. Mazurkas (4) for piano, Op. 67, CT. 92-95: Mazurka in A minor, Op. 67/4
  18. Mazurkas (4) for piano, Op. 68, CT. 96-99: Mazurka in C major, Op. 68/1
  19. Mazurkas (4) for piano, Op. 68, CT. 96-99: Mazurka in A minor, Op. 68/2
  20. Mazurkas (4) for piano, Op. 68, CT. 96-99: Mazurka in F major, Op. 68/3
  21. Mazurkas (4) for piano, Op. 68, CT. 96-99: Mazurka in F minor, Op. 68/4
  22. Mazurka for piano in B flat major, KK IIa/3
  23. Mazurka for piano in B flat major, KK IIa/2, CT. 101 (B. 16/2)
  24. Mazurka for piano in B flat major, KK IIa/2, CT. 101 (B. 16/2)
  25. Mazurka for piano in B flat major, KK IVb/1, CT. 103 (B. 73)
  26. Mazurka for piano in C major, KK IVb/3 (B. 82)
  27. Mazurka for piano in A flat major, KK IVb/4, CT. 104 (B. 85)


Product Details

  • Conductor: none
  • Composer: Chopin
  • Audio CD (January 12, 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: HYPERION
  • ASIN: B002W8IINE
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,961 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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In the words of Frank Cooper (author of the liner notes of the original Arabesque twofer incarnation)--'Although these mazurkas' design usually permits amateur performance (a quality much valued by publishers), the expression of their content can elude all but the most sophisticated interpreters.'

Therefore, it would probably be fair to say that the Chopin Mazurkas are particularly suited for connoisseur pianists (won't get into a discussion of definition here, but only state mine: first-rate performers whose sophisticated refinement remains elusive to the wider public)--above all Ohlsson and Moravec. Against this background, I do not particularly lament that Argerich has only taken on a select few of them; moreover, it makes sense to me that Pollini has avoided them altogether. Without any intention of being a tedious naysayer, I predict that Yundi Li's Mazurkas, as part of his recently announced, pending complete Chopin survey on EMI, will have little to offer of interest.

The aforementioned is not to demean the competition but rather an attempt to shed light on the unique combination of Chopin's most deeply personal works and Ohlsson's selflessly illuminating renditions of the same--resulting in some of the most magnetic piano playing this reviewer has yet come across during two decades of collecting primarily piano records. As always with Ohlsson's Chopin playing, it reaches its summit in the most introspectively elegiac and nostalgic pieces where he takes us to previously unknown territory--such as Op 50/3, Op 56/1/3, Op 59/1, Op 63/2-3 and Op 68/2.

Frank Cooper offers some memorable words about three of them: '[Op 56] No.
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This disc completes Garrick Ohlsson's fine set of the Chopin mazurkas. There are 28 of them here, following the opus-number sequence up to op 63, then alternating 8 compositions of various dates and lacking opus numbers with the posthumous opp 67 and 68 works. If I have understood the liner note rightly, 5 other pieces have been excluded, I suppose on grounds that they are adjudged spurious, although the matter is not spelt out.

Ohlsson's concept of the mazurkas is full-blooded and vigorous, although by no means wanting in delicacy of touch when needed, much less in delicacy of feeling. This approach is particularly well suited to the first number here, op 50/1 in G major, getting the disc off to a very promising start. You may find the piano recorded too close-to, but I prefer to put up with this as a very minor shortcoming rather than reduce the volume and so lose impact from the performance. There is no hint of distortion, the piano (Mason & Hamlin rebuilt by Mr William Schneider of Michigan State University) is agreeable in tone, and the sound is altogether in keeping with the artist's idea of the pieces.

The promising start goes on to fulfil its promise, I'm happy to say. If anything, I find Ohlsson's playing even better on this disc than on the first, particularly in the late works. Op 68/4 is Chopin's very last composition, which he was too enfeebled to play himself. You will not miss its significance as played here, and indeed Ohlsson shows deep and sympathetic perception of the intensely personal tone of the mazurkas all the way through both discs.
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Garrick Ohlsson sets here all his technical skills and musical insight in order to get the very essence of the true mood in an impressive traversal of the whole mazurkas by Chopin. Deceptively, it could seem an accessible task (even for a second year piano student) to solve the musical and technical challenges risen by these miniatures. Notwithstanding, the most difficult thing is to get the right balance of feelings and the proper inner rhythms in conveying their emotional palette. Exaggerations, as well as reluctant approaches, are capital sins. Maybe, one needs to win the prestigious Chopin competition - as Ohlsson did forty years ago in Warsaw - to reach the required interpretive artistry with all maturity, finesse and wisdom of immersing in Chopin's world. A long meditation over the scores, along with an empathic approach, is needed in order to properly deal with these lovely miniatures, so expressive with regard to the deep soulfulness and drama of the Polish people during the history.

Ohlsson's ease of negotiating the technical challenges, overtaking them by simply soaring above the notes and fondling the keys, along with a poetic sense of melody and harmony in searching for the true mood of mazurkas, have led him straightforwardly to a seductive account that can be considered as a genuine benchmark of the Chopin recorded catalogue.
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