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Thread: Chopin's Ballade No. 4 Op.52

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    Junior Member Kiki's Avatar
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    Default Chopin's Ballade No. 4 Op.52

    This is one of my favourite pieces of music. John Ogdon said "it contains the experience of a lifetime". I find it captivating, sometimes enraging and at times painfully mesmerising.

    Which recordings do you like? Which performances have moved you?

    I started with Rubinstein 1959 which I think is poetic and disciplined without exaggeration. Over the years I have come across Cortet 1929, Ashkenazy 1964, Vásáry 1965, Gavrilov 1984/85 & 1991, Zimerman 1987, Kissin 1998, Pollini 1999, Fliter 2003 Live, Freire 2013, Yundi Li 2015...

    But my favourite is Tamás Vásáry's 1993 recording on a BBC CD.

    It is the second fastest in my collection, clocked at 9'51", only the Cortet is faster by a few seconds. When I first heard it, I was amazed by how "right" Vásáry has made it sound in terms of tempo and phrasing, and this is a performance that has taken me to the brink of tears. The down side is, since then I've found most of the others sounding a bit like an elegy, unfortunately.
    Last edited by Kiki; Aug-25-2018 at 10:52.

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    Senior Member Oldhoosierdude's Avatar
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    Have you tried Guiomar Novaes recording for Vox? Probably from the 1950's. She is excellent.

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    Junior Member Kiki's Avatar
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    Thank you for the recommendation. Found Guiomar Novaes on youtube. Her phrasing seems spot-on, certainly more convincing than some modern day big names.

    Also found her Chopin Ballade No. 4 on Amazon. The price of a used LP is reasonable, but the shipping is jaw-dropping. Not sure I want to bite the bullet though. *sigh*

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    Senior Member Oldhoosierdude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiki View Post
    Thank you for the recommendation. Found Guiomar Novaes on youtube. Her phrasing seems spot-on, certainly more convincing than some modern day big names.

    Also found her Chopin Ballade No. 4 on Amazon. The price of a used LP is reasonable, but the shipping is jaw-dropping. Not sure I want to bite the bullet though. *sigh*
    It may not appeal to you but the mp3 I have is included in the Big Piano Box download, $. 99 for a ton of good music.

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    Senior Member Larkenfield's Avatar
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    Vasary is wonderful. Zimerman plays it big and lyrically. This Ballade requires an enormous expenditure of energy to successfully bring off well, perhaps Chopin at the height of his creative imagination, brilliance, and power... I find it a dazzling work of genius. What an awesome harmonist!

    Last edited by Larkenfield; Aug-29-2018 at 09:03.
    Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things. —Ray Bradbury

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    The pianists I like best seem to either play it around 10 minutes, or around 12 minutes. Of the former Benno Moisewitch and Samson Francois are my favorites. The latter would be Bella Davidovich and Ivan Moravec.

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    Junior Member Kiki's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Larkenfield View Post
    Vasary is wonderful. Zimerman plays it big and lyrically....
    I find Zimerman even more lyrical (and slightly faster) in this youtube video than in his 1987 DG recording. Beautiful!

    Quote Originally Posted by chesapeake bay View Post
    The pianists I like best seem to either play it around 10 minutes, or around 12 minutes. Of the former Benno Moisewitch and Samson Francois are my favorites. The latter would be Bella Davidovich and Ivan Moravec.
    Found them all on youtube. So much to explore! This place is dangerous!

    Everyone, really appreciate your recommendations!

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    Senior Member Oldhoosierdude's Avatar
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    How about Nikita Magaloff? Heard that one recently. Her Piano has a beautiful sound.

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    Senior Member Dirge's Avatar
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    My favorite account of Chopin’s F-minor Ballade comes from Josef Hofmann’s (in)famous April 7th, 1938, Casimir Hall recital at the Curtis Institute—his final recital there as it turned out, as he had been fired/forced to resign as director of the Institute earlier that same day. It’s a highly charged, precariously hinged/unhinged one-off performance of thundering virtuosity and unmitigated chutzpah that is loved by those who aren’t repulsed and offended by it … and even by a few of those who are repulsed and offended by it.

    The recording was made by some fellow who worked at the hall and is of sorry quality—the recording, not the fellow—with glorious amounts of distortion when Hofmann pummels the piano in climaxes (which only adds to the excitement in a perverse way). It’s available from Marston Records: The Complete Josef Hofmann, Vol. 6 «The Casimir Hall Recital»

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fqPN4gXy834

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