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Chopin: Sonatas, Ballades, Scherzos, Etc / Abbey Simon


Release Date: 04/24/2001 
Label:  Vox Box Catalog #: 5178   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Abbey Simon
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 37 Mins. 

CD not available: This title is currently only available as an MP3 download.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

A casual consumer would never know from Vox's packaging that these are analog recordings from the late 1970s. While they don't quite equal the reference versions cited above, I respond to these performances more now than when I owned them on LP. Both the Second and Third Sonatas are jam-packed with fanciful yet never obtrusive rubatos, fleeting inner voices in the manner of Josef Hofmann (Simon, in fact, studied with that great, controversial pianist), and a healthy disregard for cut-and-dried phrasing. Fast passages are not simply tossed off but rather are shaped as rapid melodies, as you'll hear in the B minor Sonata's Scherzo and Finale. Don't come to Abbey Simon's Chopin Sonatas, though, seeking Martha Argerich's elemental energy or Read more Arthur Rubinstein's uncluttered architecture.


The Impromptus equally fascinate in Simon's hands. Many pianists, for instance, like to linger over the fioritura, while Simon tends to play these passages in tempo. I'm particularly riveted by the F-sharp Impromptu's epic intensity, but prefer a more aristocratic, patiently spun Barcarolle, served up by Rubinstein or Lipatti. Some may find the Scherzos and Ballades overly sectionalized, engrossed in local detail, and not sufficiently scintillating, yet I'm struck by their textural diversity and fluent drama. Simon's left hand always can be counted on for an extra kick or two in the accentuation department to help keep the story line moving and the listener engaged, but without drawing undue attention to itself.


Transferred to CD, the recordings boast a wider dynamic range and fullness of tone absent from the LPs. Close miking, however, exaggerates the Baldwin concert grand's glassy resonance. Improved, less airless sonics in the Scherzos, Ballades, and Berceuse somewhat alleviate the situation, but I still regret that Simon didn't have a better instrument at his disposal. But, hey, how often do you find such provocative pianism at rock-bottom price?
--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1. Sonata for Piano no 2 in B flat minor, B 128/Op. 35 "Funeral March" by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Abbey Simon (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1837-1839; Paris, France 
Length: 25 Minutes 8 Secs. 
2. Sonata for Piano no 3 in B minor, B 155/Op. 58 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Abbey Simon (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1844; Paris, France 
Length: 25 Minutes 25 Secs. 
3. Impromptu for Piano no 1 in A flat major, B 110/Op. 29 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Abbey Simon (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1837; Paris, France 
Length: 3 Minutes 44 Secs. 
4. Impromptu for Piano no 2 in F sharp major, B 129/Op. 36 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Abbey Simon (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1839; Paris, France 
Length: 5 Minutes 26 Secs. 
5. Impromptu for Piano no 3 in G flat major, b 149/Op. 51 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Abbey Simon (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1842; Paris, France 
Length: 5 Minutes 4 Secs. 
6. Impromptu for Piano no 4 in C sharp minor, B 87/Op. 66 "Fantaisie-Impromptu" by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Abbey Simon (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1835; Paris, France 
Length: 5 Minutes 2 Secs. 
7. Barcarolle for Piano in F sharp major, B 158/Op. 60 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Abbey Simon (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1845-1846; Paris, France 
Length: 8 Minutes 30 Secs. 
8. Scherzo for Piano no 1 in B minor, B 65/Op. 20 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Abbey Simon (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1831-1832; Poland 
Length: 10 Minutes 42 Secs. 
9. Scherzo for Piano no 2 in B flat minor/D flat major, B 111/Op. 31 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Abbey Simon (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1837; Paris, France 
Length: 9 Minutes 46 Secs. 
10. Scherzo for Piano no 3 in C sharp minor, B 125/Op. 39 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Abbey Simon (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1839; Mallorca (Majorca),  
Length: 7 Minutes 20 Secs. 
11. Scherzo for Piano no 4 in E major, B 148/Op. 54 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Abbey Simon (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1842; Paris, France 
Length: 10 Minutes 48 Secs. 
12. Ballade for Piano no 1 in G minor, B 66/Op. 23 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Abbey Simon (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1831-1835 
Length: 9 Minutes 19 Secs. 
13. Ballade for Piano no 2 in F major/a minor, B 102/Op. 38 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Abbey Simon (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1836-1839; Paris, France 
Length: 7 Minutes 18 Secs. 
14. Ballade for Piano no 3 in A flat major, B 136/Op. 47 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Abbey Simon (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840-1841; Paris, France 
Length: 6 Minutes 50 Secs. 
15. Scherzo for Piano no 4 in E major, B 148/Op. 54 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Abbey Simon (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1842; Paris, France 
Length: 10 Minutes 45 Secs. 
16. Berceuse for Piano in D flat major, B 154/Op. 57 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Abbey Simon (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1844; Paris, France 
Length: 4 Minutes 9 Secs. 

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