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Piano Concertos 1, 2 (2 CD) CD

4.6 out of 5 stars 62 customer reviews

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Audio CD, CD, November 2, 1999
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Frequently Bought Together

  • Piano Concertos 1, 2 (2 CD)
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  • Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2
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  • Chopin: 4 Ballades, Barcarolle in F Sharp Major, Op.60; Fantasy in F Minor, Op. 49
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Chopin's two piano concertos have long been admired more as pianistic vehicles than as integrated works for piano and orchestra. But in his revelatory new recording, Krystian Zimerman suggests otherwise: The opening orchestral tuttis have so much more light, shade, orchestral color, and detail, you wonder if they've been rewritten. Every gesture, every instrumental solo is so specifically characterized that by the time the piano makes a dramatic entrance, the pieces have become operas without words. One may wonder if Chopin intended that. In fact, he knew bel canto opera in his native Poland, but the more positive proof is that the music has so much more to say when treated this way. Some will find the performances disturbing: The interpretations are so much more about content than form, and there's so much tempo and rhythmic flexibility, that the music sometimes seems unmoored and adrift. But upon repeated listening, the sense of fantasy is so beguiling that you wonder if you could ever go back to more conventional performances.

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Chopin's two piano concertos have long been admired more as pianistic vehicles than as integrated works for piano and orchestra. But in his revelatory new recording, Krystian Zimerman suggests otherwise: The opening orchestral tuttis have so much more light, shade, orchestral color, and detail, you wonder if they've been rewritten. Every gesture, every instrumental solo is so specifically characterized that by the time the piano makes a dramatic entrance, the pieces have become operas without words. One may wonder if Chopin intended that. In fact, he knew bel canto opera in his native Poland, but the more positive proof is that the music has so much more to say when treated this way. Some will find the performances disturbing: The interpretations are so much more about content than form, and there's so much tempo and rhythmic flexibility, that the music sometimes seems unmoored and adrift. But upon repeated listening, the sense of fantasy is so beguiling that you wonder if you could ever go back to more conventional performances. --David Patrick Stearns
  • Sample this album Artist (Sample)
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30
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2
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12:34
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9:52
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Disc 2
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Product Details

  • Orchestra: Polish Festival Orchestra
  • Conductor: Zimerman
  • Composer: Chopin
  • Audio CD (November 2, 1999)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • ASIN: B00002DE0S
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #48,194 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

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By Hans U. Widmaier on December 8, 1999
Format: Audio CD
It is hard not to get cynical about the modern classical music business, where media-hyped stars crank out recording after meaningless recording of a handful of overused war horses that possess the unfortunate quality of commercial appeal. It often seems inconceivable that the pieces (for example, the Chopin and Tchaikovsky Piano Concerti, the Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Sibelius Violin Concerti, the Brahms Symphonies, etc. etc.) could still be rescued from this exploitation. Zimerman and his orchestra utterly refute any such pessimism. They restore two of the most sadly abused pieces to an almost shocking level of authenticity, freshness, and immediacy. It's not enough to say they have a deep understanding of this music. No: they have it in their blood, it is completely natural to them, the speak Chopin's idiom as if it were their mother tongue. The result is one of the most atmospheric, intimate, moving, beautiful, interesting recordings I have ever heard. You have to go deep into the history of recorded music to find comparable achievements. I am thinking of the Cortot-Thibaud-Casals collaborations, Furtwaengler's Beethoven Symphonies, Oistrach's and Barshai's Sinfonia Concertante, and a few others. Without a question, this is the most important (and the most enjoyable) classical recording in years. Buy it! It will blow you away.
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Format: Audio CD
From the start I must mention that I find it difficult to write an objective paragraph about a recording that has so completely changed me. I will now find it impossible to listen to the "old" or more conventional interpretations of these two concerti. This was in fact the promise of Krystian Zimerman, that he would bring us these works "in a style we have never heard before." This reflects many discoveries that Zimerman has made and also his deep understanding of the music. (Compare the recordings he made with Giulini and the L.A.P.O. twenty years ago; they sound lifeless in comparison.) These recordings were rush-released by DG to coincide with Zimerman's worldwide tour of this program in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Chopin's death. I heard Zimerman live with this program Nov.4 in Worcester, MA and can easily say that this was the most moving concert I have ever attended in my life. The audience around me was equally stunned, and there were some gasps in the slow movements of each concerto. I did not know that music could go this far into a world of fantasy and intimate communication. What went on between Zimerman and his orchestra was something I have never seen before; something reserved for those who have a deep understanding for each other, and who have painstakingly worked through each phrase. There is a stunning emphasis on the orchestration, (note the newly composed bars of music) such that the effect is that of chamber music. Not only did I feel as if I were hearing these works anew, but for the very first time. Zimerman plays with seemingly unbelievable ease, yet with poetic and dynamic fire together with an orchestra of very distinct sound.Read more ›
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By A Customer on December 7, 1999
Format: Audio CD
My wife and I had the marvelous opportunity to attend a performance of these pieces by Zimerman and the Polish Festival Orchestra at Salle Pleyel in Paris on October 17, 1999, the 150th anniversary of the composer's death. This recording, made is August of 1999, captures the emotional intensity and commitment of the soloist and orchestra. When the first piano concerto was completed, an electric charge seemed to be released in the concert hall as the entire audience rose from their seats and roared their approval. The second piano concerto was performed with the same loving attention and passionate commitment and received a similar response from the audience. You should be aware, however, that this is a longer and, at times, more drawn out performance of both pieces (especially in the middle movements), a condition that might not suit the tastes of all listeners. With that warning, I can promise you an experience that comes amazingly close to that achieved at Salle Pleyel that magical evening.
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Format: Audio CD
I understand very well why so many reviewers hate this recording, but I understand even more and sympathize with everybody who finds Zimerman's new Chopin release fascinating (to say the least). An impulse (patriotic duty? I am Polish) made me buy this disc and it was one of the most inspired choices in my CD buyers "career" (I buy a lot!). Zimerman resuscitated my fading sympathy for these two marvellous pieces of music - I simply heard too much of Chopin's piano concerti in my life and no recording - new or old - was able to give me just a grain of excitement needed for enjoyment. Zimerman's Chopin was shocking, but it woke me up! I don't care if it distorts or not the composer's intentions - what do we know about Chopin's intentions anyway? If it distorts the Chopin in our heads - that's even better! With music-making of such dedication and technical accomplishment, every "distortion" of any composer's intentions is very welcome!
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