Search - Frederic Chopin, Franz Liszt, György Cziffra :: Chopin: ?uvres pour piano [Box Set]

Chopin: ?uvres pour piano [Box Set]
Frederic Chopin, Franz Liszt, György Cziffra
Chopin: ?uvres pour piano [Box Set]
Genres: Dance & Electronic, Special Interest, Classical
 
  •  Track Listings (22) - Disc #1


      
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CD Reviews

THE BIG LEAGUE
DAVID BRYSON | Glossop Derbyshire England | 11/18/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Cziffra, unlike Horowitz, took days off from being a showman. His Grieg concerto is not at all showy nor, I believe, is his Tchaikovsky, and nothing on these two discs of Chopin has anything like the flamboyance of his set of the studies. He is probably the most likeable super-virtuoso of them all, and there is a certain innocence about him (Horowitz is much 'badder'). His lyric manner has an unaffected naturalness that propels some of his interpretations to the top of my preferences, there is a sense of sky and air about much of his playing that has the rest sounding laboured or contrived, and occasionally he is oddly low-key -- the military polonaise ends in a slightly apologetic 'er, that's it' way, and the two pieces in F# (the second impromptu and the Barcarolle) are definitely too restrained in my opinion. The F# impromptu is an odd and very original piece, and I liked Cziffra's imaginative pedalling in the two little fanfare passages, but in the middle section the voltage is far too low. I'll stick with Rubinstein for this and also with Rubinstein and Horowitz for the celestial Barcarolle, my own outright favourite of all Chopin's works. Rubinstein's urbane manner suits it very well, but he is not afraid to let himself go when the big tune surges out in all its magnificence. Cziffra, even more than Lipatti, seems overly concerned not to be virtuosic, and he even plays the entire opening phrase quietly, where my edition and every other performance I know has it starting loudly followed by a diminuendo. Horowitz has no such inhibitions of course, and his is my favourite version of all with his superlative double-trills, the thrilling way be blazes out into forte in the second section and the touch of suffused sparkle in the quiet right-hand runs just before the end. Much of Chopin's work has a feel of etude about it, not just the 27 pieces that he gave that name to, and the Barcarolle seems to me to be in part a study in pedalling and trills. Cziffra was a master among masters of pedalling, but if I have one criticism of his almighty technique it is that his trilling is often casual-sounding, here and elsewhere. His pedalling is another matter altogether, a miracle of alertness, sensitivity and imagination.

Of the other smaller pieces, I would say that this version of the A flat polonaise is not as good as the one on his record of the studies, nor as the one on the Senlis disc. Here Cziffra doesn't use that ultimate technical command, that Rubinstein hasn't quite got, to give the middle section the treatment it deserves -- slip the gears the way Horowitz and Ashkenazy do. His Polonaise-fantasy is good but not as searching as Rubinstein's still less Richter's, nor as defiant as Horowitz's if that is the way you prefer it. There is little to choose between him and Rubinstein in the other 3 polonaises, but I prefer his touch in the central mazurka in the F# minor and in the Fantasy-impromptu. In the Bolero he has the edge on Rubinstein for easy-going virtuosity, and in the Tarantella he easily outshines him without even bothering with virtuosity. In the first and third impromptus there is little between them, both taking a fairly relaxed speed as opposed to the old-fashioned high-velocity treatment of the first impromptu by Moiseivitsch or the not-very-convincing in-between approach adopted by Horowitz.

In both the sonatas he is my new top choice. In the B flat minor he mercifully spares us the repeats -- the work's intense 'dwarf-star' quality comes over better without them -- his funeral march is the best I ever heard, and he has a very original way, bleak indeed, with the finale, even if he doesn't dislodge Michelangeli from first place in that. In the B minor he makes more sense, to my ears, of the first movement development than Rubinstein or Lipatti -- it all coheres as one consistent process for once. His simple lyric style keeps the Largo from sounding too long, the trio of the scherzo comes over as music not as an exercise, and the piece as a whole is less intellectually-driven than by Lipatti and has, for me anyway, just an indefinable edge in freshness over Rubinstein.

For completeness, there are 2 of Chopin's Polish songs messed about with by Cziffra's beloved Liszt but played as superbly as you would expect."