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Chopin: Sonata in B-flat minor, Berceuse, etc.

5.0 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Audio CD, May 27, 2003
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Ivan Moravec plays CHOPIN Sonata in Bb minor Op. 35 Berceuse Op. 57 Ballade No. 4 in F minor Op. 52 Three Mazurkas; Op. 6 No. 3, Op. 24 No. 4, Op. 30 No. 3 Fantaisie in F minor Op. 49

Review

10/10 Artistic/Sound Quality The Fantasie alone is worth the price of this disc and easily takes its place alongside Cortot/Arrau -- Classicstoday.com
  • Sample this album Artist (Sample)
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1:36
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Product Details

  • Performer: Frederic Chopin, Ivan Moravec
  • Audio CD (May 27, 2003)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Vox
  • ASIN: B00009PY4F
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #171,851 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By Jeffrey G. Jones on May 8, 2005
Format: Audio CD
All of this music has been recorded many times over by musicians ranging from the dire to the sublime. For any Chopin recording to really stand out from the pack nowadays, it has to have some really special qualities. This is one of those recordings, and as someone who has never heard any other Moravec, it has made me eager to explore him further.

The B-flat minor Sonata of Chopin is a four-movement work cut from granite; the third movement is the Funeral March you hear at every memorial service today. The sonata can be shattering, but Moravec plays it with an inward expression I've never heard before in this piece, together with the most rounded tone to be recorded since Rubinstein. His interpretation is dramatic and majestic, not athletic, and certainly not bombastic.

The Berceuse is next, a short and deservedly popular cradle song which uses a gentle, rocking ostinato figure, practically unchanged through the entire piece, underneath what amounts to a kind of chaconne. I do not expect to ever hear it played with a greater inner peace than on this CD.

Following this little bon-bon is the great F minor Ballade, which is deeply tragic. A heavenly opening with subtle bell effects, which returns later in A major to great effect, is followed by a curiously obsessive theme which sounds like a song sung by a child in the wilderness. This theme keeps returning, in varied forms as the child grows into a full-fledged adult, until it returns one last time for the coda, in the form of an intense and furious two-part counterpoint which is among the most difficult passages in Chopin and leaves a strong psychological imprint.

Included in the CD are three Mazurkas, which are delightful.
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Format: Audio CD
It doesn't really seem so long ago that I first heard Ivan Moravec and sat stunned at his superb artistry. But it has been 40 years, and this great master whom I heard play in his early thirties is now 73. And what has he recorded in that span? Three sonatas and five concertos of Mozart, a little Bach and Schumann, six Beethoven sonatas (while other pianists his age are on their second or even third complete cycle), the third and fourth Beethoven concertos, the Ravel Sonatine, some Brahms, some nice Czech music, and a good deal of wonderful Debussy and Chopin. In other words, just a few years' worth of recordings for some of the more famous names on the big labels. However, within his modest output, Ivan Moravec has given some of the greatest performances ever preserved.
So we are thankful whenever this musician-virtuoso records anything, and this latest release is nothing less than magnificent. Is it possible for a performance of the warhorse B-flat minor sonata of Chopin to sound strikingly fresh and new? Apparently so. This introspective reading is one for the ages. Other pianists (Pollini comes to mind) have certainly recorded unsurpassable renditions of this piece, but Moravec's is unique and incomparable. Moravec is capable of pyrotechnics, but they simply have no place here. Even so, each note is beautifully in place and given its full due, as if it were a human soul.
It is interesting to compare this performance of the fourth Ballade with the recording Moravec made back in 1966. The 2002 version seems more leisurely, but in fact has a shorter playing time. The earlier version makes the hair on the back of your neck stand on end. The new version puts you deep into thought. Apply superlatives to the rest of the disc and you have my review.
This disc is hard to find but certainly available, and at mid-price to boot.
Please, Ivan. The B minor sonata. The late Beethoven. Some more Mozart and Debussy. Anything you want to play.
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Format: Audio CD
I will make it very simple to digest:
Sound Quality, Performance, Selection, Price: 10 out of 10.
I was so impressed with this album that I decided to write about it for you to enjoy it as well. Even the content selection is a piece of art in itself. The production of this compact is very well done. It sets the "magic" that goes from the Sonata in B flat minor to Berceuse, and from Berceuse to the Ballade, the lingering mazurkas, and, finally, the crown of this outstanding production and performance: The Fantasie in F minor.
This album is a piece of art in every way...! It's not only Moravec, who is way up there in inspiration and impecable performance. I'm talking about the team that put these pieces together -like jewels- without overwhelming each other, but supporting each other, articulating a mood that is consistent without falling in monotony. And, yes, it will mesmerize your senses as it did with mine. And yes, it will let you craving for more, and you will do what I did: play it again, and again. If you need to grab a defect on this album, THIS IS IT!
This is the kind of album that will set the mood for intimacy...
Very moving, very touching. Ideal companion to a good wine or a moment of inner expansion.
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Format: Audio CD
This disc, well recorded in 2002 when Moravec was 72 years of age, offers an accumulation of wisdom when it comes to his very personal vision of Chopin. These performances are all deeply satisfying, very beautiful, very introspective, very improvisatory, powerful and also darkly impressive.

Like so many of his Chopin recital programs there is one main work supplemented by a number of shorter works which are frequently things of great beauty - real musical gems in his hands. Moravec has a range of touch that is frequently very gentle yet which can deliver great strength. This is not the same thing as brute force, which he never delivers. His playing is frequently introspective or inwardly communicating with a strong improvisatory nature but this is supported by a tight rhythmical control modified with subtle use of rubato.

The sonata that starts this disc is a disturbed work as Schumann so rightly described ...'dissonances into dissonances ....he (Chopin) has simply bound together a few of his wildest children, to smuggle them under his name into a piece they could not have else penetrated.' The element of darkness is not shirked in this performance and thus the funeral march of the third movement is set within the context of surrounding movements that match its sombre mood.

The following Berceuse is a thing of incredible beauty and that is followed by a powerfully dark rendering of the fourth Ballade. This performance is a concept built on a gigantic emotional scale rising to a tremendously impressive climax before sinking back to a sort of brooding and sad exhaustion - a further example of Chopin's disturbed frame of mind. The three mazurkas give welcome relief and, typical of Moravec, their dance origins cannot be missed.
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