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The Chopin Of Mexico Plays Chopin, Vol. 1

Otey,Orlando
Release Date: 09/12/2007 
Label:  Ionian Productions   Catalog #: 5637422555   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Orlando Otey
Number of Discs: 1 
Length: 1 Hours 13 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



CHOPIN Ballade No. 3, op. 47 . Scherzo No. 1, op. 30. Etudes: in a, op. 10/2; in c?, op. 10/4; in e?, op. 10/6; in A?, op. 10/10; in E?, op. 10/11; in c, op. 25/12. Read more class="ARIAL12bi">Fantasy-Impromptu, op. 66. Waltzes: in a, op. 34/2; in G?, op. 70/1. Ecossaises, op. 73/1-3. Nocturnes: in c, op. 48/1; in f?, op. 48/2; in G, op. 37/2 Orlando Otey (pn) IONIAN (73:10)


CHOPIN Ballade No. 4, op. 52 . Polonaises: in A?, op. 53 “Heroic;” in A, “Military,” op. 40/1. Etudes: in E, op. 10/3; in C, op. 10/7; in F, op. 25/3; in b, op. 25/10; in A?, op. 25/1; in c, op. 25/12; in f, op. 25/2; in F, op. 10/8; in c?, op. 25/7; in g?, op. 25/6; in G?, op. 25/9; in a, op. 25/11. Waltzes: in A?, op. 69/1; in E?, op. 18 Orlando Otey (pn) IONIAN (68:54)

Based on these two CDs, I would have to say that the late Orlando Otey was a major Chopin pianist. It is a tragedy that we don’t have more extensive documentation of his art. These CDs were released in 2007 and 2008, when Otey was in his early-80s. They portray a pianist still in possession of a formidable technique, with a sound all his own. Particularly worth noting is the power of Otey’s left hand, with which he can build tremendous sonorities and also articulate textures across the keyboard with stunning ease. Otey’s playing represents a pianist who came of age prior to the advent of the long playing record, before the sound of pianists as a whole became generalized. Yet while Otey performs with striking individualism, there is nothing idiosyncratic about his playing. His interpretations of Chopin are fully lived events, the lifetime accomplishment of someone who has been playing this composer since early childhood. Otey’s tempos vary, from international norms to strikingly leisurely, but they make complete sense. Always one is aware of a rich imagination. Why did Otey not have a bigger career? Did the change in pianistic fashions away from the romantic play a part? We just are fortunate that Ionian Productions gives us the chance to revel in Otey’s artistry, at times some of the most compelling Chopin I know.


Volume 1 begins with a spacious Third Ballade, followed by a First Scherzo that is dynamic and virtuosic. Of the six etudes offered here, op. 10/2 slithers along eerily, op. 10/4 has exemplary clarity, and op. 10/6 presents beautiful shading and coloring. The etude, op. 10/10, is florid and elegant, while op. 10/11 is songful, like a barcarolle. Op. 25/12 has unusual majesty. The Fantasy-Impromptu partakes of gossamer textures, with a wistful B section. The two waltzes Otey presents make a wonderful contrast: op. 34/2 possesses rich echoes of a vanished world, while op. 70/1 is full of gaiety. The three ecossaises are taken slower than we usually hear, particularly the first, but they have a twinkle and are eminently danceable. Otey’s nocturnes are some of the slowest I know, except for Garrick Ohlsson’s second cycle. Op. 48/1 is intensely dramatic, a great performance, marred only by a slight engineering glitch. Op. 48/2 has Satie-like poise. Lastly, the op. 37/2 nocturne’s B section here sounds like bells tolling, a fitting end to a memorable program.


Volume 2 starts with a mellifluous, long-lined account of the Fourth Ballade, followed by a “Heroic” Polonaise that is magisterial, almost orchestral. The subsequent 12 etudes are not played in their order of publication, unlike the six in Volume 1. Op. 10/3 is a case study in rubato, while op. 10/7 is many textured. Op. 25/3 possesses the rhythm of a gallop. We seem to scale a mountain in op. 25/10, taking repose in the B section. Op. 25/1 is uncommonly rich sounding, like a flowing river. The tumultuous account of op. 25/12 appears to be a different recording than the one in Volume One; was Otey dissatisfied with it? Op. 25/2 is like a mazurka, while op. 10/8 sounds casual and offhand. Op. 25/7 seems to take place on another planet. Tremendous dexterity goes into op. 25/6, while op. 25/9 has an aura like Scott Joplin. Berlioz appears to have influenced this version of op. 25/11, with its contrasts of light and dark. The “Military” Polonaise feels authentically Polish. Otey’s program finishes on a less complicated note with two waltzes. His reading of op. 69/1 sounds pensive. Op. 18 receives a classic rendition, filled with sparkle and joie de vivre . Thus our journey through Chopin with Orlando Otey ends in positive territory.


Alexander Otey has supplied very good sound engineering in both collections. The piano recording is full and detailed, although I could have wished for a solider image of the instrument. I can’t close my review without admitting to a feeling of regret. In the time I’ve spent listening to Orlando Otey, I’ve experienced the satisfaction one knows from the company of a major artist, especially because he is the sort of artistic personality we don’t come in contact with anymore. His recorded achievement in old age rivals that of Shura Cherkassky and Vlado Perlemuter. I imagine that the story of his life would make fascinating reading. I have trouble reconciling myself to the fact that this is the first and last time I will be reviewing Orlando Otey in Chopin. Confronting this fact makes all the fuss over pretty young prodigies seem terribly shortsighted. What I would give instead for one more Chopin CD by Orlando Otey! He is a touchstone for everything Chopin means.


FANFARE: Dave Saemann
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Works on This Recording

1. Ballade for Piano no 3 in A flat major, B 136/Op. 47 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Orlando Otey (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840-1841; Paris, France 
Length: 7 Minutes 44 Secs. 
2. Scherzo for Piano no 1 in B minor, B 65/Op. 20 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Orlando Otey (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1831-1832; Poland 
Length: 10 Minutes 28 Secs. 
3. Etudes (12) for Piano, Op. 10: no 2 in A minor by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Orlando Otey (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Length: 1 Minutes 40 Secs. 
4. Etudes (12) for Piano, Op. 10: no 4 in C sharp minor, B 74 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Orlando Otey (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1832; Poland 
Length: 2 Minutes 14 Secs. 
5. Etudes (12) for Piano, Op. 10: no 6 in E flat minor by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Orlando Otey (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1830; Poland 
Length: 3 Minutes 55 Secs. 
6. Etudes (12) for Piano, Op. 10: no 10 in A flat major by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Orlando Otey (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1829; Poland 
Length: 2 Minutes 40 Secs. 
7. Etudes (12) for Piano, Op. 10: no 11 in E flat major by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Orlando Otey (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1829; Poland 
Length: 2 Minutes 42 Secs. 
8. Etudes (12) for Piano, Op. 25: no 2 in F minor by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Orlando Otey (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1836; Paris, France 
Length: 2 Minutes 47 Secs. 
9. Impromptu for Piano no 4 in C sharp minor, B 87/Op. 66 "Fantaisie-Impromptu" by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Orlando Otey (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1835; Paris, France 
Length: 5 Minutes 19 Secs. 
10. Waltzes (3) for Piano, Op. 34: no 2 in A minor, B 64 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Orlando Otey (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1831; Poland 
Length: 5 Minutes 18 Secs. 
11. Waltzes (3) for Piano, Op. 70: no 1 in G flat major, B 92 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Orlando Otey (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1833; Paris, France 
Length: 2 Minutes 18 Secs. 
12. Ecossaises (3) for Piano, B 12/Op. 72 no 3: no 1 in D major by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Orlando Otey (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1826; Poland 
Length: 2 Minutes 18 Secs. 
13. Ecossaises (3) for Piano, B 12/Op. 72 no 3: no 2 in G major by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Orlando Otey (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1826; Poland 
Length: 1 Minutes 21 Secs. 
14. Ecossaises (3) for Piano, B 12/Op. 72 no 3: no 3 in D flat major by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Orlando Otey (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1826; Poland 
Length: 1 Minutes 16 Secs. 
15. Nocturnes (2) for Piano, B 142/Op. 48: no 1 in C minor by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Orlando Otey (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1841; Paris, France 
Length: 6 Minutes 30 Secs. 
16. Nocturnes (2) for Piano, B 142/Op. 48: no 2 in F sharp minor by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Orlando Otey (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1841; Paris, France 
Length: 7 Minutes 58 Secs. 
17. Nocturnes (2) for Piano, Op. 37: no 2 in G major, B 127 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Orlando Otey (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1839; Paris, France 
Length: 6 Minutes 34 Secs. 

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