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Chopin: Nocturnes, Scherzi, Etc / Arthur Rubinstein


Release Date: 03/11/2008 
Label:  Emi Great Recordings Of The Century Catalog #: 09667   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Artur Rubinstein
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Mono 
Length: 2 Hours 36 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



CHOPIN Nocturnes: Nos. 1–19. Barcarolle in F?, op. 60. Waltz in A?, op. 34/1. Four Scherzos. Berceuse in D?, op. 57. Andante spianato and Grande polonaise brilliante Arthur Rubinstein (pn) EMI 509667, mono (2 CDs: 156:06)


Chopin is not my usual beat. In fact, putting life and limb at risk, I confess that Chopin is not a composer Read more I have found it easy to love. There is something about his music I find terribly depressing, and not in a good way. So much of it strikes me as poetically nostalgic and self-indulgently sentimental—treacly I think is the word I’d use. Having that out of the way, I certainly recognize Chopin’s historical importance to the evolution of keyboard technique and his contribution to the Romantic solo piano repertoire.


In the history of the performing arts, Arthur Rubinstein and Chopin cannot be separated. As a youth, exploring the vast repository of classical music and becoming familiar with the big-name artists of the day, I kept coming upon the names Rubinstein (he was still Artur then) and Chopin, as if the two were a hyphenated singularity. It was Rubinstein’s 1953 LP of Chopin’s E-Minor Piano Concerto with Wallenstein and the Los Angeles Philharmonic that first introduced me to both the composer and the pianist. And it seemed to me, even at my tender age, that if ever a marriage between composer and performing artist were made in heaven, this was it.


Rubinstein played everything, even some 20th-century repertoire by the likes of Prokofiev, Poulenc, and Milhaud that one wouldn’t ordinarily expect of this diminutive in size keyboard giant who made his fame and fortune, not just in Chopin, but also in war-horses such as the Schumann and Grieg concertos, Liszt’s First, and Rachmaninoff’s Second. Yes, he recorded Mozart, Beethoven, and Brahms too, and practically everything in between, but these were never regarded as his forte. I can recall reading critics’ reviews and overhearing intermission chitchat at piano recitals. Rubinstein had his detractors, (some, undoubtedly, were among the many women he is reputed to have womanized) and they complained incessantly about his undisciplined, if not inadequate, technique. Was it not, in fact, this very issue that raised Rubinstein’s hackles in a celebrated row he had with Fritz Reiner? As I’ve heard the story told, they were rehearsing a concerto in which Rubinstein was having difficulty with a particular passage. He asked Reiner for a moment to practice it. Came Reiner’s prickly reply, “Arthur, you never could play it right and you never will.”


I had to wonder how any pianist lacking technique could possibly play Chopin—some of the most technically challenging piano music ever written—with such electrifying panache. Was there something about Rubinstein’s laissez-faire approach to technique that was actually a strength when it came to the easy rubato and free-flowing, yielding plasticity of Chopin’s right-left-hand coordination? Maybe, especially in works like the nocturnes in this set, but other works by Chopin demand an extraordinary level of both rhythmic accuracy and virtuosic flair. Creating the illusion of music playing itself as if by a sleight of hand is not something that comes about without lots of practice and technical mastery.


So what was Rubinstein’s secret? What makes his Chopin the measure by which all others are judged? I don’t know the answer to that, and you may not come up with it either after listening to these discs, at least not in some empirical way; but you will know instantly and intuitively why there is Chopin by everyone else, and then there is Chopin by Rubinstein.


These recordings are part of EMI’s “Great Recordings of the Century” series. They were made in London’s Abbey Road Studio 3 between 1928 and 1937, and they are simply amazing. Whatever was done to remaster them for CD, the results are miraculous. For over two-and-a-half hours I sat entranced listening to music I heretofore never even liked very much. All of the nocturnes are here, save for the posthumous No. 20 in C? Minor, and a No. 21 in C Minor published in 1837. Rubinstein takes us through the No. 19 in E Major, op. 72/1. Stephen Plaistow in his informative, if all too brief, booklet note tells us that the nocturnes are here and there “disfigured by the inauthentic text Rubinstein was using at the time.” Not being a Chopin expert, I can’t argue the point; but I am tempted to say that with playing like this it hardly seems to matter. This is an essential addition to any serious collector’s library.


FANFARE: Jerry Dubins
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Works on This Recording

1. Nocturnes (3) for Piano, Op. 15 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Artur Rubinstein (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1830-1833 
2. Nocturnes (3) for Piano, B 54/Op. 9 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Artur Rubinstein (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1830-1831; Poland 
3. Nocturnes (2) for Piano, B 106/Op. 32 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Artur Rubinstein (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1836-1837; Paris, France 
4. Nocturnes (2) for Piano, B 142/Op. 48 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Artur Rubinstein (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1841; Paris, France 
5. Nocturnes (2) for Piano, Op. 27 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Artur Rubinstein (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1835; Paris, France 
6. Nocturnes (2) for Piano, B 161/Op. 62 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Artur Rubinstein (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1846; Paris, France 
7. Nocturnes (2) for Piano, B 152/Op. 55 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Artur Rubinstein (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1843; Paris, France 
8. Nocturnes (2) for Piano, Op. 27 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Artur Rubinstein (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1835; Paris, France 
9. Nocturne for Piano in E minor, B 19/Op. 72 no 1 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Artur Rubinstein (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1827; Poland 
Length: 4 Minutes 8 Secs. 
10. Barcarolle for Piano in F sharp major, B 158/Op. 60 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Artur Rubinstein (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1845-1846; Paris, France 
Length: 8 Minutes 21 Secs. 
11. Waltzes (3) for Piano, Op. 34: no 1 in A flat major, B 94 "Valse brillante" by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Artur Rubinstein (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1835; Paris, France 
Length: 3 Minutes 55 Secs. 
12. Scherzo for Piano no 1 in B minor, B 65/Op. 20 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Artur Rubinstein (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1831-1832; Poland 
Length: 8 Minutes 22 Secs. 
13. Scherzo for Piano no 2 in B flat minor/D flat major, B 111/Op. 31 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Artur Rubinstein (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1837; Paris, France 
Length: 8 Minutes 17 Secs. 
14. Scherzo for Piano no 3 in C sharp minor, B 125/Op. 39 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Artur Rubinstein (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1839; Mallorca (Majorca),  
Length: 6 Minutes 31 Secs. 
15. Scherzo for Piano no 4 in E major, B 148/Op. 54 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Artur Rubinstein (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1842; Paris, France 
Length: 9 Minutes 38 Secs. 
16. Berceuse for Piano in D flat major, B 154/Op. 57 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Artur Rubinstein (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1844; Paris, France 
Length: 4 Minutes 16 Secs. 
17. Andante spianato et Grand polonaise brillante in E flat major, Op. 22 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Artur Rubinstein (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1830-1831; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 13 Minutes 46 Secs. 
18. Nocturnes (3) for Piano, B 54/Op. 9: no 1 in B flat minor by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Artur Rubinstein (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1830-1831; Poland 
Length: 4 Minutes 57 Secs. 
19. Nocturnes (3) for Piano, B 54/Op. 9: no 2 in E flat major by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Artur Rubinstein (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1830-1831; Poland 
Length: 4 Minutes 31 Secs. 
20. Nocturnes (3) for Piano, B 54/Op. 9: no 3 in B major by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Artur Rubinstein (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1830-1831; Poland 
Length: 4 Minutes 51 Secs. 
21. Nocturnes (3) for Piano, Op. 15: no 1 in F major by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Artur Rubinstein (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1830-1831; Poland 
Length: 3 Minutes 51 Secs. 
22. Nocturnes (3) for Piano, Op. 15: no 2 in F sharp major by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Artur Rubinstein (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1830-1831; Poland 
Length: 4 Minutes 3 Secs. 
23. Nocturnes (3) for Piano, Op. 15: no 3 in G minor by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Artur Rubinstein (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1833; Paris, France 
Length: 4 Minutes 15 Secs. 
24. Nocturnes (2) for Piano, Op. 27: no 1 in C sharp minor, B 91 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Artur Rubinstein (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1835; Paris, France 
Length: 4 Minutes 53 Secs. 
25. Nocturnes (2) for Piano, Op. 27: no 2 in D flat major, B 96 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Artur Rubinstein (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1835; Paris, France 
Length: 6 Minutes 18 Secs. 
26. Nocturnes (2) for Piano, B 106/Op. 32: no 1 in B major by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Artur Rubinstein (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1836-1837; Paris, France 
Length: 4 Minutes 43 Secs. 
27. Nocturnes (2) for Piano, B 106/Op. 32: no 2 in A flat major by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Artur Rubinstein (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1836-1837; Paris, France 
Length: 4 Minutes 54 Secs. 
28. Nocturnes (2) for Piano, Op. 37: no 1 in G minor, B 119 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Artur Rubinstein (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1838; Paris, France 
Length: 4 Minutes 53 Secs. 
29. Nocturnes (2) for Piano, Op. 37: no 2 in G major, B 127 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Artur Rubinstein (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1839; Paris, France 
Length: 6 Minutes 37 Secs. 
30. Nocturnes (2) for Piano, B 142/Op. 48: no 1 in C minor by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Artur Rubinstein (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1841; Paris, France 
Length: 4 Minutes 42 Secs. 
31. Nocturnes (2) for Piano, B 142/Op. 48: no 2 in F sharp minor by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Artur Rubinstein (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1841; Paris, France 
Length: 4 Minutes 47 Secs. 
32. Nocturnes (2) for Piano, B 152/Op. 55: no 1 in F minor by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Artur Rubinstein (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1843; Paris, France 
Length: 4 Minutes 42 Secs. 
33. Nocturnes (2) for Piano, B 152/Op. 55: no 2 in E flat major by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Artur Rubinstein (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1843; Paris, France 
Length: 4 Minutes 33 Secs. 
34. Nocturnes (2) for Piano, B 161/Op. 62: no 1 in B major by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Artur Rubinstein (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1846; Paris, France 
Length: 6 Minutes 9 Secs. 
35. Nocturnes (2) for Piano, B 161/Op. 62: no 2 in E major by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Artur Rubinstein (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1846; Paris, France 
Length: 5 Minutes 2 Secs. 

Sound Samples

19 Nocturnes (2008 Digital Remaster): No. 1 in B flat minor Op. 9 No. 1
19 Nocturnes (2008 Digital Remaster): No. 2 in E flat major Op. 9 No. 2
19 Nocturnes (2008 Digital Remaster): No. 3 in B major Op. 9 No. 3
19 Nocturnes (2008 Digital Remaster): No. 4 in F Major Op. 15 No. 1
19 Nocturnes (2008 Digital Remaster): No. 5 in F sharp major Op. 15 No. 2
19 Nocturnes (2008 Digital Remaster): No. 6 in G minor Op. 15 No. 3
19 Nocturnes (2008 Digital Remaster): No. 7 in C sharp minor Op. 27 No. 1
19 Nocturnes (2008 Digital Remaster): No. 8 in D flat major Op. 27 No. 2
19 Nocturnes (2008 Digital Remaster): No. 9 in B major Op. 32 No. 1
19 Nocturnes (2008 Digital Remaster): No. 10 in A flat major Op. 32 No. 2
19 Nocturnes (2008 Digital Remaster): No. 11 in G minor Op. 37 No. 1
19 Nocturnes (2008 Digital Remaster): No. 12 in G major Op. 37 No. 2
19 Nocturnes (2008 Digital Remaster): No. 13 in C minor Op. 48 No. 1
19 Nocturnes (2008 Digital Remaster): No. 14 in F sharp minor Op. 48 No. 2
19 Nocturnes (2008 Digital Remaster): No. 15 in F minor Op. 55 No. 1
19 Nocturnes (2008 Digital Remaster): No. 16 in E flat major Op. 55 No. 2
19 Nocturnes (2008 Digital Remaster): No. 17 in B major Op. 62 No. 1
19 Nocturnes (2008 Digital Remaster): No. 18 in E major Op. 62 No. 2
19 Nocturnes (2008 Digital Remaster): No. 19 in E minor Op. 72 No. 1(posthumous)
Barcarolle in F sharp major Op. 60 (2008 Digital Remaster)
Waltz in A flat major, Op.34 no.1 (2008 Digital Remaster)
Scherzos (2008 Digital Remaster): No. 1 in B minor Op. 20
Scherzos (2008 Digital Remaster): No. 2 in B flat minor Op. 31
Scherzos (2008 Digital Remaster): No. 3 in C sharp minor Op. 39
Scherzos (2008 Digital Remaster): No. 4 in E Op. 54
Berceuse in D flat major Op. 57 (2008 Digital Remaster)
Andante spianato & Grand polonaise in E Flat Major. Op. 22 (2008 Digital Remaster)

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 who is Jerry Dubins? August 18, 2012 By Martin Pinsky (Middleburg, FL) See All My Reviews "He opens his review with utterly rediculous comments about his reluctance to like Chopin for thisor that stupid reason. Wwhy do you allow him to review a composer he despises or, feel soooo uncomfortable with.

It is annoying to see these stupid comments and it kills his entire review because he is reviewing Chopin a composer he fells soooo uncomfortable with. Is this man on drugs? I would delete his entire review because he enters it with an extreme bias-- is this the right man to review Chopin? If youarein doubt read the rediculous opening of his alleged review.

I believe I commented on this before and you insist on keeping his review in your archives. This acceptance of no taste in Chopin reflects on your bad taste in allowing him in the circle. Best to chuck his review and be done with it-- surpised at you Eric-- thought you were a smart guy."
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