Chopin: Complete Edition
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
On the 150th anniversary of his death, Deutsche Grammophon released this impressive box set featuring the complete works of Frédéric Chopin. Spread out over 17 CDs, it contains some truly big-name artists--Argerich, Pollini, Barenboim, and Ashkenazy--and a few you've probably never heard of. The majority of the set's nine volumes contain some music newly produced for this undertaking, and a few items (Chopin's songs, for instance) were recorded specifically for this collection. A well-illustrated book is included--it contains an essay, dateline, and illustrations--and each volume in the set gets its own liner notes. The music? It varies from great to less than great, but most of it is worth hearing. Those accustomed to Rubinstein's readings of the Mazurkas will find those played by Jean-Marc Luisada less fluid and lacking Rubinstein's power. Chopin's songs, seldom heard and filled with elements of Polish folk dances and the less-than-stellar lyrics of the composer's friend Stefan Witwicki, get a college try here by soprano Elzbieta Szmytka. They sound as good as you'll hear anywhere (if you can find them). It probably goes without saying that Martha Argerich's rousing 26 Préludes are some of the set's more exciting moments. But, really, the entire collection is solid. It should be noted that budget label Naxos has released its own Chopin edition at less than half the price of this set. With Idil Biret as the only performer on that set, you miss out on some of the diverse performances and personalities found here. Also, to please those of us who already own favorite performances of these works, each two-CD volume in the Complete Chopin Edition can be purchased individually. Bravo. --Jason Verlinde
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
There are at least one other "complete" Chopin sets available today, but this one offers, not only the DG label and an array of the greatest pianists of out times, but also a wonderful accompanying book plus copious written inserts for each of the disks. Recording quality is generally uniformly even, with only a few inconsistencies here and there, nothing that really can be faulted. This is really "plug and play" beauty, an immersive set of such sublime quality that it will always remain an important cornerstone in the classical enthusiast's world. I can't recommend it more highly.
Siepmann said that Chopin, born of a French father and a Polish mother in Poland, was actually "more French than the French," and taught France what piano music could be beyond the grand period dominated by a string of German and Austrian prodigies. It's hard to deny that. To listen to these pieces is more than to listen to simple piano playing: there was something unique, something unusual, something truly special within this man, and the sounds that emanate from the piano in these pieces stand alone among even the greatest of composers. They are beautiful, lovely, surprising, sometimes ticklish, sometimes profoundly sad, often wonderfully optimistic. They are jewels in the crown of written music, nothing short of that.
Bottom line - This is hands down the best compilation of Chopin that I have ever heard - and I've been listening to Chopin for almost 15 years. I've heard many versions of the works, and this CD has the best of the artists and the interpretations of the works.
The greatest virtue of this collection is the opportunity to hear more obscure elements of Chopin's collected ouevre. He wrote some lovely chamber music and wrote highly effective variations with and without orchestra. Among his 17 songs are a few gems.
As for the strength of the performances, some of them are rightly considered definitive. I love Zimerman in the piano concerti, Argerich owns the Op. 28 preludes, and I find in Pollini's scherzos the unbridled energy and interpretive depth required by these challenging pieces. Even if Daniel Barenboim's nocturnes do not set any records, they are well-done and completely satisfying.
I was less enthusiastic about Pollini's readings of the latter 2 piano sonatas, which I find prosaic on the whole. I was equally underwhelmed by Bunin's impromptus, which again betray interpretive rather than technical deficiencies. My greatest disappointment is Jean-Marc Luisada's controversial readings of the mazurkas. An unwieldy rubato rules the day here, and distorts the harmonic language to the point that it sounds like Debussy or Ravel's frequent (and unshakeably French-sounding) evocations of Spain. I much prefer any of the Rubinstein mazurka sets, which are colorful but rhythmically mindful of their namesakes.
Properly supplemented in the more familiar repertory (mazurkas, impromptus, sonatas, in particular), I believe this set is indispensable to anyone who appreciates or seeks a broader understanding of Chopin the composer. I recommend it highly.
DG deserves praise for coming with an excellent set of records as well as presentation of the booklets. It is breathtaking to have the opportunity to really know Chopin so well.
Performers are first rate and speak for themselves, and for the price of 8 CD's you get the whole collection. Yes, you can get in some cases better performances, but overall you can find a better compilation. Naxos has its own, and I am going to exchange it with a friend, problem will be to get mine back!
Buy it without hesitation.