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Grieg, Schumann: Piano Concertos / Bolet, Chailly

Release Date: 12/18/2008 
Label:  Decca   Catalog #: 417112  
Composer:  Edvard GriegRobert Schumann
Performer:  Jorge Bolet
Conductor:  Riccardo Chailly
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

It isn't hard to guess that Bolet is the soloist here. He recorded both concertos as recently as May of this year, when he was already 71, and his playing, with its cool, clear-cut tone, has an elder statesman's authority and poise. There's rather less of the immediacy, fantasy and sheer exhilaration of his three younger rivals, whose couplings all grew from much earlier days in their careers.

A constant factor in both concertos is Bolet's liking for deliberate tempo. Though slower than the composer's own metronome markings in the first movement of the Grieg, he is magisterial enough to justify his choice, and the slow movement's breadth is undeniably impressive too. But the dance-inspired finale lacks vitality. Nor can the
Read more ravishing poco piu tranquillo episode bring its full contrast after so restrained a start. Anyone who found the elasticity and succulence of the Zimerman/Karajan performance on DG a bit too much of a good thing may of course prefer Bolet's aristocratic discipline—especially in matters of rubato. They may also prefer Chailly's refusal to swoon in pursuit of romantic expression. But there is a happy medium, as Bishop-Kovacevich and Davis (Philips) so persuasively discovered way back in 1972. The Lupu/Previn (Decca) Grieg, in its less personally phrased and shaded but healthily full-blooded way, is enjoyable too. But despite a slightly more confined, less vivid acoustic, I would recommend the Bishop-Kovacevich/Davis reissue as the truest portrait of Grieg.

In the Schumann Concerto Bolet's deliberate tempo for the finale (almost but not quite so deliberate as the composer's often questioned metronome marking) would certainly have pleased Clara. I particularly enjoyed what this leisure allows Bolet to make of left-hand melody beneath the right hand's rippling quavers in the coda. His Andantino grazioso, however, though never over-cossetted, is rather slower than Clara and Robert might have liked. I also thought his slackening of speed for the first movement's central Andante espressivo section excessive. As a whole, this performance has a classical directness and purity of its own. Yet I would still describe it as noble prose rather than intimate, Schumannesque poetry. In this work both Bolet and Bishop-Kovacevich have a formidable rival in the fancifully imaginative, magic-toned young Zimerman, like Karajan so much more natural here than in their slightly over-ripe Grieg, and extremely well recorded. As recently in Liszt's Transcendental Studies (Decca 414 601-1DH; CD 414 601-2DH, 10/86), so again here, I thought a slight touch of metal in Bolet's louder treble tone much cushioned by the fuller resonance of CD. The sympathetically attuned Chailly and his men come over equally well in both formats.'

-- Joan Chissell, Gramophone [12/1986]
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Piano in A minor, Op. 16 by Edvard Grieg
Performer:  Jorge Bolet (Piano)
Conductor:  Riccardo Chailly
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1868/1907; Norway 
Concerto for Piano in A minor, Op. 54 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Jorge Bolet (Piano)
Conductor:  Riccardo Chailly
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1841-1845; Germany 

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