Finally, something different
Hexameron | 03/28/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm sure we're all used to it: every pianist churning out their own Chopin recital disc. Moreover, almost all of these recordings contain works from the Nocturne, Etude, or Prelude category. I never understood this appeal for hearing the same works played over and over by different pianists. This recording offers something different. Hyperion and Nikolai Demidenko give us a taste of Chopin's lesser-known compositions: the Tarantella Op. 43, Bolero Op. 19, and several posthumous Polonaises which are always reduced to obscurity in the presence of Chopin's more illustrious Op. 53 or "Military."
The six Polonaises featured here are played almost in chronological order (from a number standpoint, not the date of their genesis). However, Hyperion and Demidenko intersperse other unfamiliar works between these early Polonaises. Youthful may be a better word to describe them. It's mind-boggling that the G minor and B flat major (No. 11 and 12) Polonaises were composed by a seven year old. The former is purely Classical in style; it's hard to detect Chopin in any of these bars. But there is a bewitching degree of rhythmic tunefulness and tender expression here. In the A flat major and G sharp minor (No. 13 and 14) Chopin's budding style shows its face. Again, I am totally impressed by Chopin's infinite source of melodic power and originality. A mature Kalkbrenner or Heller would be hard-pressed to find such beautiful themes. This couldn't be truer than with the marvelous G sharp minor (No. 14) Polonaise known as the "Adieu." Chopin's duality of melancholy and lilting dance make a fine fusion. More alluring music also occurs in the rare G flat major (No. 16) Polonaise. I'm particularly won over by Demidenko's executions; his balance of delicate phrasing and full-blooded brio brings out the best in these.
The works that separate the Polonaises are even more fascinating to my mind. In the Bolero, another piece I have never heard before, Chopin weaves a fantastic tapestry. Demidenko's tasteful and warm playing definitely enhances the work's loveliness. Purported as having a relationship with material from a first movement of a Piano Concerto, the Allegro de Concert exhibits the greatest facets of Chopin's style: tender longing, beautiful ornamentations, and thrilling virtuosic sections. I've recently reviewed Idil Biret's performance of this, but I'm afraid Demidenko outclasses her by far. His legato and technique is surpassing, the shading of dynamics more agreeable, and his emotional conception is more memorable. Demidenko's interpretation of the Berceuse is also as good as it gets, levitating in sublimity. Perhaps most impressive, though, is the Tarantella and Polonaise-Fantasy Op. 61. These two works, in Demidenko's hands, could actually represent the sword and shield of his pianism. In the devilish Tarantella, Demidenko slices through with Lisztian fireworks and exciting rapidity. On the other hand, Demidenko upholds composure and manages with fine precision in his performance of the mysterious mammoth, the Polonaise-Fantasy Op. 61. Both works are played with an agreeable balance of sensitivity and passion.
Bottom line: This recording deserves more praise. Through the supreme musicianship of Demidenko and the high caliber recording sound of Hyperion, these rarities of Chopin's opus are exposed in a superlative performance. Such a cheap price from Hyperion's budget label, Helios, means Chopin fans and those who have yet to encounter these pieces can rejoice."
OUTSTANDING - FIRST RATE! DO NOT EVEN HESITATE.
an amazon fan | 07/25/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I don't think I ever listened to Demidenko play Chopin, but this CD is so brilliant musically. emotionally, and artistically that you simply can't believe your ears! For me it sometimes felt that I was actually being carried away with the music in the air!
This CD contains some of the lesser regularly played pieces, but is superb none the less. It is a Helios CD and used to be in the Hyperion catalogue. At a relatively low price now ($11.99), this CD is esentially priceless! Why Hyperion put this CD in the lower price category is beyond me."
D. A Wend | Buffalo Grove, IL USA | 07/26/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Nikolai Demidenko plays a marvelous recital of Chopin's music with quite a few works that are infrequently performed, such as the Bolero and Tarantella. The disc contains several Polonaises, with two (numbers 11 and 12) written when Chopin was he was seven years old (his earliest known works) and published after his death. Additionally, Polonaise Nos. 13 and 14 were published after Chopin's death. The Polonaises recorded here are no the more familiar bombastic military but are very quiet and lyrical works. The Polonaise-Fantasy is far more complex where he stretches the Polonaise to its limits. The music was also written (1845) at a time of turmoil when his relationship with George Sand had fallen apart. Following a brief introduction, various kinds of contrasting music are at work from a nocturne to dance melodies. The Fantasy was criticized by Liszt as having no design. The final Polonaise on the disc is number 16 written with a charming dance melody and written before Chopin left Poland but not printed until the 1870's. The trio changes the rhythm to a more reflective mood before resuming the dance.
The Allegro de Concert had it's genesis as a piano concerto and was completed in 1841. The music suggests a concerto form in a compact piece lasting just under 12 minutes. The music is rich in themes and balances brilliant passages with slower, lilting melodies with a fabulous conclusion. The Allegro is one of Chopin's most original works. The Berceuse ranks along with the nocturnes and barcarolle as one of Chopin's most lyrical works. The music slowly unfolds with a rocking theme dominating the rhythm. The Tarantella is more Lisztian in feel with wild chromatic scales and unrest, a true showpiece.
Nikolai Demidenko plays Chopin with great depth of feeling and precision. This is a great recital disc with familiar and unfamiliar works that fully display Chopin's complexity and poetry. For those with a passion for Chopin this is a must have disc and the bargain price makes it an easy choice.