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Daniel Barenboim - The Warsaw Recital

Barenboim,Daniel / Chopin
Release Date: 11/16/2010 
Label:  Accentus   Catalog #: 20102  
Composer:  Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Daniel Barenboim
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Also available on Blu-ray


CHOPIN Piano Sonata No. 2, “Funeral March.” Fantasy. Nocturne in D?, op. 27/2. Barcarolle. Waltzes: in a, op. 34/2; in F, op. 34/3; in D?, op. 64/1; Read more class="ARIAL12b">in c?, op. 64/2. Berceuse. Polonaise in A?, op. 53, “Heroic.” Mazurka in f, op. 7/3 Daniel Barenboim (pn) ACCENTUS 20102 (DVD: 90:45) Live: Warsaw 2/28/2010

Daniel Barenboim is one of my favorite Chopin pianists. True, he is best known for his Beethoven and Mozart. However, while in his 30s, Barenboim made treasurable recordings of the preludes, the Fantasy, the second and third sonatas, the nocturnes, and other works. He has in recent years taken up Chopin again. In the program notes for this DVD, Barenboim says, “When I play Chopin I feel a kind of purely physical pleasure that I get from no other composer’s music.” One can hear this in the beautifully rounded, communicative tone that Barenboim produces throughout this recital. His live performances here of the Second Sonata, the Fantasy, and a nocturne are more vibrant than his studio recordings. There is a handful of less than ideally clear passages during this recital. But for a part-time pianist in his late-60s, Barenboim demonstrates enviable technical command throughout the program. As with Leonard Bernstein and George Szell, Barenboim is a mature pianist whom years of conducting have left relatively unscathed technically.

Barenboim begins his recital with the Fantasy, an excellent warm-up piece for a pianist given its slow introduction. Barenboim presents a huge Turneresque canvas, filled with flashes of light and drama. The following nocturne is fleshed out on a grand scale, ranging from hushed whispers to vehement declarations. It evinces the literary erudition and imagination that Barenboim says he especially values in a musician. The “Funeral March” Sonata, for Barenboim, is program music akin to Tchaikovsky’s “Pathétique” Symphony. The first two movements tell the story of a life’s course and events, climaxing in the “Funeral March.” The march is slow and intimate, portraying death on a human scale. It does not represent the onslaught of cosmic destruction one hears in Ivo Pogorelich’s impressive DVD of the work. The last movement for Barenboim marks the final disintegration of the person after death.

Barenboim begins the second half of his recital with the Barcarolle. It is less a Venetian boat song than something Parisian, a portrait of a refined man of the world, especially one who, like Chopin, frequents aristocratic salons. The set of three waltzes that follows is urbane and teasing, sounding like no other pianists’. In op. 34/2, these qualities are combined with a touch of melancholy. The dark colors of the op. 64/2 waltz here sound especially Polish. The Berceuse in Barenboim’s hands is both a study in ornamentation and a precursor of Satie. Here Barenboim’s touch seems as deft and imaginative as Count Basie’s. The “Heroic” Polonaise receives a big reading filled with unusual rhythmic vitality. For his first encore, Barenboim presents a mazurka that is like a reverie in front of a dying fire. His recital concludes with the “Minute” Waltz, which he treats as a technical study for the right hand but also with a bit of cheekiness.

The sound engineering is very good, just a little dry. I was unable to listen in surround sound. The direction of the video is unobtrusive and to the point, although I also enjoyed just listening to the recital lying down with my eyes closed. It is wonderful to find that Barenboim is still a pianist at the height of his powers and very much in love with Chopin. This DVD is my best experience of hearing a solo recital of Chopin since I heard Evgeny Malinin in concert in 1990. I recommend it both to the experienced collector and to anyone who still hasn’t found out what Chopin is all about. It is such echt Chopin that Glenn Gould would have hated it.

FANFARE: Dave Saemann

Recorded live at the Filharmonia Narodowa, Warsaw, 28 February 2010.

Picture format: NTSC 16:9
Sound format: PCM Stereo / Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS 5.1
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Running time: 91 mins
No. of DVDs: 1 (DVD 9)

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Works on This Recording

Fantasie for Piano in F minor/A flat major, B 137/Op. 49 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Daniel Barenboim (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1841; Paris, France 
Nocturnes (2) for Piano, Op. 27: no 2 in D flat major, B 96 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Daniel Barenboim (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1835; Paris, France 
Sonata for Piano no 2 in B flat minor, B 128/Op. 35 "Funeral March" by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Daniel Barenboim (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1837-1839; Paris, France 
Barcarolle for Piano in F sharp major, B 158/Op. 60 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Daniel Barenboim (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1845-1846; Paris, France 
Waltzes (3) for Piano, Op. 34: no 2 in A minor, B 64 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Daniel Barenboim (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1831; Poland 
Waltzes (3) for Piano, Op. 34: no 3 in F major, B 118 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Daniel Barenboim (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1838; Paris, France 
Berceuse for Piano in D flat major, B 154/Op. 57 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Daniel Barenboim (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1844; Paris, France 
Polonaise for Piano in A flat major, B 147/Op. 53 "Heroic" by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Daniel Barenboim (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1842; Paris, France 
Mazurkas (5) for Piano, B 61/Op. 7: no 3 in F minor by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Daniel Barenboim (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1831; Vienna, Austria 
Waltzes (3) for Piano, B 164/Op. 64: no 1 in D flat major "Minute Waltz" by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Daniel Barenboim (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1846-1847; Paris, France 

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