Notes and Editorial Reviews
Chopin with grace and eloquence: her approach to the concerto is ardently lyrical with a spacious sense of rubato and radiant singing tone, and the Berceuse has a crystalline clarity – every note is like a polished jewel.
Maria Joao Pires has garnered a special reputation for Chopin, and she follows her acclaimed Second Piano Concerto – coupled with a glowing account of the Preludes (DG, 10/94) – with the First, again with solo works as fillers. Her musicianship is (as we have come to expect) wonderfully natural, with a voice of eloquent directness and purity. Her stance, too, is perfectly judged: she is inside the music, portraying it with love and affection, yet without any trace of narcissism. Nevertheless, while her
innate stylishness and the beauty of her sound should never be taken for granted, she doesn’t always capture the youthful fervour of early Chopin.
Pires’s approach to the concerto is ardently lyrical, giving her spacious sense of rubato and radiant singing tone the greatest expressive freedom. If the piano’s first entry hardly grabs your attention, Pires’s wonderfully pliable phrasing and bell-like sonority soon win you over. She has a magical way with music of gentle expressiveness, and her bel canto in the central Romanze is ravishing; moreover, in passages of sublime simplicity she avoids preciousness by maintaining a resilience of line and a firmness and clarity to the tonal fabric. While there is an emphasis on tonal beauty and refinement, and many interesting details are able to emerge, a touch more brilliance in the outwardly showy sections would surely give the cantabile passages an even more poignant intensity. Warmly recorded and sensitively accompanied, this is undoubtedly a version I shall return to again and again – the true test of any recommendation – but a little more pianistic flair would have dispelled even the slightest reservation.
‘Chopin with grace and eloquence’ proudly proclaims DG’s slip-case, and these qualities are abundant again in the solo works. The great F minor Fantasie may not have the drama of, say, Kissin, but it has a concentrated power and conviction. The Fantaisie-impromptu, loaded with expressive intensity and supported by tonal strength and exquisite melodic shaping, is for me the highlight of the disc. Taken quite slowly, the Berceuse has a crystalline clarity – every note is like a polished jewel. This is a thoroughly rewarding disc.
--Tim Parry, Gramophone [1/1999]
Works on This Recording
Concerto for Piano no 1 in E minor, B 53/Op. 11 by Frédéric Chopin
Maria-Joao Pires (Piano)
Chamber Orchestra of Europe
Written: 1830; Poland
Venue: Concert Hall, Cité de la Musique, Paris
Length: 41 Minutes 55 Secs.
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