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Thread: Your Favorite Chopin Recordings

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    Senior Member Allegro Con Brio's Avatar
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    Default Your Favorite Chopin Recordings

    The music of Frederic Chopin invites the variety of various interpretations like few others. I routinely find that the supple poetry, delicately-constructed narratives, rich pathos, and lush sonic environments of his works benefit from various perspectives. I can find something to enjoy in all approaches from the breezy nonchalance of Rubinstein to the unabashed virtuosity of Pollini and everything in between. But as an unashamed Chopinist, I want to hear more! I've come to know this music very intimately since Chopin was my first classical music love; my entry point to this wondrous and fascinating world. That's why I'm interested in going deeper. I would love to hear the preferences of TC's Chopin lovers across his entire body of work. In this thread, I hope that we can introduce each other to great recordings and stimulate lively discussion about this sublime music. Below is my current list of favorites for the majority of his works. I'm looking forward to seeing your responses! (By the way, I've searched the site on this topic and found several threads about recordings for individual sets of works, like the Nocturnes, Etudes, and Preludes; but I'm creating this to provide a general thread for discussion of Chopin recordings.

    Etudes: Backhaus, Pollini
    Nocturnes: Moravec, Arrau
    Waltzes: Arrau, Lipatti
    Mazurkas: Fialkowska, Michelangeli (he only did a handful of them on an album that also includes a wonderful 2nd Scherzo)
    Scherzi: Pogorelich
    Preludes: Cortot, Blechacz
    Ballades: Zimerman
    Ballade No. 4: Friedman
    Sonata No. 2: Argerich
    Sonata No. 3: Kapell, Pletnev
    Barcarolle: Lipatti, Pollini
    Fantaisie: Kissin
    Polonaises: Ohlsson
    Polonaise-Fantaisie: Richter
    Impromptus: Perahia
    Concerti: Biret, Zimerman (only heard the later one where he conducts from the piano)
    Last edited by Allegro Con Brio; Jan-21-2020 at 04:08.

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    Senior Member Brahmsianhorn's Avatar
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    Concerto No 1 – Hoffman/Barbirolli
    Concerto No 2 – Cortot/Barbirolli
    Sonata No 2 – Rachmaninoff
    Ballades – Cortot ‘29
    Etudes – Backhaus, Cortot
    Mazurkas, Nocturne Op 55/2 - Friedman
    Nocturnes – Rubinstein ’65-‘67
    Mazurkas, Polonaises, Scherzi – Rubinstein ’32-‘35
    Preludes, Impromptus, Bercuese, Barcarolle – Cortot ‘33
    Scherzo No 4 – Godowski
    Waltzes, Sonata No 3 – Lipatti

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    I don't listen to Chopin's music a lot, but I'm very impressed with Michelangeli's playing.
    He didn't have a large repertoire but what he played was impeccable.
    I like listening to the op.49 fantasie, ballade no.1, scherzo no.2 and many of the waltzes.

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    Senior Member Allegro Con Brio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rice View Post
    I don't listen to Chopin's music a lot, but I'm very impressed with Michelangeli's playing.
    He didn't have a large repertoire but what he played was impeccable.
    I like listening to the op.49 fantasie, ballade no.1, scherzo no.2 and many of the waltzes.
    Yes! His playing has a sort of atmospheric aura to it that is quite magnetic. I should have listed his Ballade No. 1 as a favorite in my list. He also has a disc of Brahms's Four Ballades that is downright sumptuous.

    Currently Lipatti, Friedman, Ohlsson, Cortot, Zimerman, and Pollini top my list of favorite Chopin pianists. I'm not as big on Rubinstein as many since I find his pianism quite shallow and aloof, tending to skim the surface and sound unnuanced due to the lack of inflection. It's the same kind of thing that Schnabel and Edwin Fischer do that I just can't seem to understand (Cortot is somewhat known for this as well, but his playing sounds more unpretentious to me). But I do like Rubinstein's nocturnes and mazurkas quite a bit. It's just in the more large-scale works like the Ballades where I find he doesn't tickle my fancy.

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    Senior Member flamencosketches's Avatar
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    I love Martha Argerich and Alfred Cortot for the Preludes (different moods). Ivan Moravec and Artur Rubinstein playing the Nocturnes (again different moods), and I like Vladimir Ashkenazy playing the Polonaises.

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    Senior Member flamencosketches's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allegro Con Brio View Post
    Yes! His playing has a sort of atmospheric aura to it that is quite magnetic. I should have listed his Ballade No. 1 as a favorite in my list. He also has a disc of Brahms's Four Ballades that is downright sumptuous.

    Currently Lipatti, Friedman, Ohlsson, Cortot, Zimerman, and Pollini top my list of favorite Chopin pianists. I'm not as big on Rubinstein as many since I find his pianism quite shallow and aloof, tending to skim the surface and sound unnuanced due to the lack of inflection. It's the same kind of thing that Schnabel and Edwin Fischer do that I just can't seem to understand (Cortot is somewhat known for this as well, but his playing sounds more unpretentious to me). But I do like Rubinstein's nocturnes and mazurkas quite a bit. It's just in the more large-scale works like the Ballades where I find he doesn't tickle my fancy.
    Thanks to your comment I am going to track down Michelangeli's Chopin disc on DG... that sounds amazing. I love his Schumann Carnaval and Debussy Images.

    Any opinions on Vlado Perlemuter's Chopin? I found a Nimbus CD of him playing some of the Nocturnes at the used record shop yesterday, but I passed it up because I've just ordered Claudio Arrau playing the Nocturnes.

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    His mazurkas are well worth hearing! This is what I wrote four years ago

    Perlemuter, more than anyone else I've heard, including Rosen, makes the music sound contrapuntally and harmonically adventurous and experimental. The disonance he produces, in the central sections, presumably by staggering the voices slighly and using the pedal, is totally unexpected.

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    Senior Member Helgi's Avatar
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    Most of what I know of Chopin is based on recordings by Vladimir Ashkenazy that I've had for 20 years, so I have a lot to discover!

    I sampled some pieces a few weeks ago, mostly Aldo Ciccolini and Martha Argerich. And also a more recent one by Víkingur Ólafsson.

    Any comments on Ashkenazy's Chopin, seeing as no one has mentioned him so far?

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    Senior Member jegreenwood's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helgi View Post
    Most of what I know of Chopin is based on recordings by Vladimir Ashkenazy that I've had for 20 years, so I have a lot to discover!

    I sampled some pieces a few weeks ago, mostly Aldo Ciccolini and Martha Argerich. And also a more recent one by Víkingur Ólafsson.

    Any comments on Ashkenazy's Chopin, seeing as no one has mentioned him so far?
    I only have his "Etudes," which I like. It was part of one of those big Decca boxes, although I also owned it on vinyl back in the days.

    In the relatively early days of CDs, I purchased mid-price "sampler" discs of Chopin by Arrau and Ashkenazy. I expected to prefer the Ashkenazy, but I much preferred the Arrau. Now, I have an Arrau/Chopin box set.

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    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    Im not a huge Chopin fan but have quite a few recordings of the piano concertos and some bits and bobs. These are faves of mine.

    91XLfHtmKXL._SL1500_.jpg
    711TCnamyXL._SL1500_.jpg
    51acsXhuOCL._SL1500_.jpg

    As for Ashkenazy, this is very impressive.
    4141272.jpg

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    Senior Member D Smith's Avatar
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    I love Chopin and listen to his piano works several times a week. Favourite artists include Ingrid Fliter, Claudio Arrau, Murray Perahia, Martha Argerich and a bit of Pollini.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Helgi View Post
    Most of what I know of Chopin is based on recordings by Vladimir Ashkenazy that I've had for 20 years, so I have a lot to discover!

    I sampled some pieces a few weeks ago, mostly Aldo Ciccolini and Martha Argerich. And also a more recent one by Víkingur Ólafsson.

    Any comments on Ashkenazy's Chopin, seeing as no one has mentioned him so far?
    It was best when he was younger, this, for example, is possibly the best op 10/3 I have ever heard

    51SqmaieNfL._AC_.jpg
    Last edited by Mandryka; Jan-22-2020 at 21:49.

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    Senior Member DarkAngel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brahmsianhorn View Post
    Concerto No 1 – Hoffman/Barbirolli
    Concerto No 2 – Cortot/Barbirolli
    Sonata No 2 – Rachmaninoff
    Ballades – Cortot ‘29
    Etudes – Backhaus, Cortot
    Mazurkas, Nocturne Op 55/2 - Friedman
    Nocturnes – Rubinstein ’65-‘67
    Mazurkas, Polonaises, Scherzi – Rubinstein ’32-‘35
    Preludes, Impromptus, Bercuese, Barcarolle – Cortot ‘33
    Scherzo No 4 – Godowski
    Waltzes, Sonata No 3 – Lipatti
    For waltzes - Lipatti & Cortot





    For mazurkas - young Ruby

    Last edited by DarkAngel; Jan-22-2020 at 22:13.

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    I jusut took your post and wrote down the first things that came into my head.

    Quote Originally Posted by Allegro Con Brio View Post

    Etudes: Backhaus, Pollini

    The earlier Pollini is better than the studio DG I think

    Nocturnes: Moravec, Arrau
    Waltzes: Arrau, Lipatti
    Mazurkas: Fialkowska, Michelangeli (he only did a handful of them on an album that also includes a wonderful 2nd Scherzo)

    Scherzi: Pogorelich

    If you like Arrau's Waltzes you may well like Demidenko's Scherzi. I do.

    Preludes: Cortot, Blechacz
    Ballades: Zimerman
    Ballade No. 4: Friedman
    Sonata No. 2: Argerich

    I played a live recording by Michelangeli quite recently and enjoyed it. I don't know the sonata as well as the 3rd

    Sonata No. 3: Kapell, Pletnev

    There was an early performance by Pletnev released on Melodyia last year.

    Barcarolle: Lipatti, Pollini

    Have you heard the two Sofronitsky recordings?


    Fantaisie: Kissin
    Polonaises: Ohlsson
    Polonaise-Fantaisie: Richter
    Impromptus: Perahia
    Concerti: Biret, Zimerman (only heard the later one where he conducts from the piano)
    Last edited by Mandryka; Jan-22-2020 at 23:17.

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    Senior Member Kiki's Avatar
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    I've been living with Rubinstein's Chopin on RCA for more than 30 years. Love his Chopin, still do, but the love has been diminishing year after year. These recordings are now sounding more boring than I remembered.

    My favourite Chopin disc is Tamás Vásáry's 4 ballades on a BBC Music Magazine CD recorded in 1993. His No. 4 remains my outright favourite recording of this work. Cortot's 1929 No. 4 comes close, with a very different style and his personality being quite a strong presence.


    Also have a favourite of the Polonaises, Maurizio Pollini's 1975 recording on DG. In his hands, these are grand, serious, patriotic works that make my blood boil.


    Dmitri Alexeev's 1985 Waltzes on Seraphim is one of the first records that I was able to sample (on Amazon) before I buy. I was looking at buying a set of the Waltzes, and I finally settled on this set after sampling many. Still love its agility and lightness.


    For other Chopin works, I don't really have any favourite recordings. In particular with the sonatas, I have not yet heard a recording that I truly love, although I like these sonatas very much. On the other extreme, with the Nocturnes and the Mazukas, anyone will do for me.

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