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Customer Review

VINE VOICEon January 1, 2010
This collection is a nice sampler of Chopin works at a bargain price. Chopin's distinction among classical composers is his laser-like focus on the piano. As a result, the overwhelming majority of the tracks -- 92 out of 99 -- are for solo piano.

As with most of these collections on the X5 label produced for Amazon, the players are very good, but not the most famous names. Abbey Simon is a well-recognized piano virtuoso and offers great performances here. Peter Schmalfuss was a German pianist who never caught on with major labels, but whose Chopin recordings get great reviews. Dubravka Tomsic is a respected piano professor in Slovenia. Ketevan Badridze made her name as a Georgian pianist, and now is faculty member at Indiana University. The mazurkas here are performed by Charles Lilamand, who I am not familiar with, but the performances are enjoyable. The playing here seems solid all around.

I am particularly happy that both of Chopin's piano concertos are offered in their entirety. Most of Chopin's solo piano works are single-movement, so "chopping them up" isn't an issue as with some of the other "99 Most Essential" collections. But even the two piano sonatas included here are left intact, in fine performances by Abbey Simon.

If there is anything missing, I would say it is chamber works. Chopin didn't write many, but it would have been nice to have one or two of his pieces for piano and cello, for example.

Overall, this collection gets a "Bravo!" It is a fine sampler, far from complete but a good start indeed for anyone who likes solo piano and wants to explore Chopin.
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