Notes and Editorial Reviews
Back in the swinging '60s, EMI released what purported to be a previously unknown performance of Chopin's E minor concerto, with soloist Dinu Lipatti. It received favorable reviews, including an enthusiastic endorsement from Harris Goldsmith in High Fidelity magazine. Years later an astute collector discovered the recording actually was Halina Czerny-Stefanska's from 1955 with the Czech Philharmonic under Václav Smetácek's baton. When an authentic Lipatti live Chopin E minor finally did surface, everyone forgot about Czerny-Stefanska. A pity, for (sssh!) I actually prefer her recording to Lipatti's.
Those familiar with Horszowski's Vox Chopin E minor of similar vintage will find Czerny-Stefanska's version
quite similar in its delicacy and grace. She shapes Chopin's embellishments with the precision of a Swiss watchmaker, replete with pearly runs and gossamer trills. It's a bit small-scaled compared to Rubinstein's virile projection and effervescent passagework, but no less masterful and authoritative. The same can be said for the Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise, which shows the Czech Philharmonic on more focused form than in the concerto (especially the woodwinds).
Similar roundness and refinement informs a group of six mazurkas, but with telling stresses and accentuations that play up the music's rustic roots (the trios of the A minor Op. 17 No. 2 and C-sharp minor Op. 63 No. 3). Vehement contrasts characterize the C major Op. 68 No. 1, while Czerny-Stefanska discovers unusual lingering points within the A minor Op. 68 No. 2's trio. Fascinating bounty, in sum, for Chopin lovers and piano connoisseurs.
--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com Read less
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