Rubinstein's stereo Chopin at super-budget priceDecember 16, 2011By T. Drake (South Euclid, OH)See All My Reviews"This is at least the third time that Rubinstein's stereo cycle of Chopin's recordings has been issued in a boxed set. In three respects, this cannot be considered a complete issue: Rubinstein didn't record the Op. 10 & 25 Etudes, he did not record peripheral works like the First Sonata, and this set does not include early stereo versions of the Berceuse and Trois Nouvelles Etudes from the 1950s (in both cases, there are 1960s versions here). It's no surprise that Sony would choose Rubinstein's last cycle of these works for yet another reissue: recorded in stereo, they are easy to market to a generation accustomed to excellent sound. But Rubinstein changed over time, he matured and mellowed, and by the time these recordings were made, he was already considered the elder statesman of Chopin interpreters. In general, his later approach is better suited to larger scale works like the Sonatas, but I prefer the spontaneity of his trailblazing 1930s versions of the Nocturnes, Mazurkas, and Scherzos, and the controlled fire of his 1950s set of Polonaises. There is one mono disc in this set, from 1946, including Rubinstein's first recording of the Sonata, Op 35, and his only version of the Preludes, Op. 28 -- neither of which show the pianist at his best. These recordings were originally issued as complete sets by genre, and Sony/BMG mostly follows the original programming concept (with the exception that the Mazurkas and Nocturnes are published on 2 CDs instead of 3 LPs). While this makes sense from a collector's perspective, I can't imagine wanting to to listen to all of the Nocturnes or Mazurkas in a row. (It would be nice if Sony would issue a box of some of Rubinstein's more imaginatively programmed albums, like the French Recital, Brahms I Love, and Chopin I Love series.) The sound here is identical to BMG's 1999 complete Rubinstein reissue, which faithfully reproduces the pianist's distinct tone. If you already have those releases, there's no point in getting this set. But if you don't, the super-budget price should serve as incentive."Report Abuse
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