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Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849)

The Complete Works

Garrick Ohlsson (piano)
16CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Originally issued on Arabesque
Recording details: Various dates
Various recording venues
Produced by Various producers
Engineered by Various engineers
Release date: November 2008
Total duration: 1152 minutes 55 seconds

Cover artwork: Frédéric Chopin in concert at the Hotel Lambert, Paris (1840) by Antar Teofil Kwiatowski (1809-1891)
Bibliothèque Polonaise, Paris / Archives Charmet / Bridgeman Art Library, London
 
Piano Sonata No 1 in C minor Op 4  [24'44]
CD1
1
Allegro maestoso  [8'30]
2
Menuetto  [4'50]
3
Larghetto  [4'41]
4
Presto  [6'43]
Piano Sonata No 2 in B flat minor Op 35  [21'07]
5
6
Scherzo  [7'11]
7
Marche funèbre  [7'09]
8
Presto  [1'33]
Piano Sonata No 3 in B minor Op 58  [27'29]
9
Allegro maestoso  [9'35]
10
11
Largo  [10'47]
12
Twenty-four Preludes Op 28  [42'49]
CD2
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
Études Op 10  [28'48]
CD3
44
45
46
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
54
55
Études Op 25  [31'34]
56
57
58
59
60
61
62
63
64
65
66
67
Nouvelles études KKIIb/3  [6'31]
68
69
70
CD4
71
72
Ballade No 1 in G minor Op 23  [10'19]
73
Ballade No 2 in A minor Op 38  [8'36]
74
Ballade No 3 in A flat major Op 47  [8'27]
75
Ballade No 4 in F minor Op 52  [12'14]
76
77
CD5
78
Scherzo No 1 in B minor Op 20  [11'24]
79
Scherzo No 2 in B flat minor Op 31  [12'21]
80
Scherzo No 3 in C sharp minor Op 39  [9'14]
81
Scherzo No 4 in E major Op 54  [12'31]
82
83
84
85
Allegro de concert in A major Op 46  [12'20]
CD6
86
Polonaise in G minor KKIIa/1  [3'42]
87
Polonaise in B flat major KKIVa/1  [3'45]
88
Polonaise in A flat major KKIVa/2  [5'07]
89
Polonaise in G sharp minor KKIVa/3  [6'56]
90
Polonaise in B flat minor KKIVa/5  [4'49]
91
Polonaise in G flat major KkIVa/8  [7'10]
92
93
94
95
96
CD7
97
98
99
100
101
Polonaise-Fantasy in A flat major Op 61  [14'20]
102
Introduction and Bolero in A minor Op 19  [7'45]
103
Tarantelle in A flat major Op 43  [3'02]
104
Impromptu No 1 in A flat major Op 29  [4'21]
105
Impromptu No 2 in F sharp major Op 36  [6'21]
106
Impromptu No 3 in G flat major Op 51  [5'54]
107
Fantasy Impromptu in C sharp minor Op 66  [5'12]
CD8
108
Nocturne in B flat minor Op 9 No 1  [6'38]
109
Nocturne in E flat major Op 9 No 2  [5'14]
110
Nocturne in B major Op 9 No 3  [6'50]
111
Nocturne in F major Op 15 No 1  [5'33]
112
Nocturne in F sharp major Op 15 No 2  [4'17]
113
Nocturne in G minor Op 15 No 3  [5'00]
114
Nocturne in C sharp minor Op 27 No 1  [5'40]
115
Nocturne in D flat major Op 27 No 2  [6'07]
116
Nocturne in B major Op 32 No 1  [5'46]
117
Nocturne in A flat major Op 32 No 2  [5'48]
118
Nocturne in G minor Op 37 No 1  [8'05]
119
Nocturne in G major Op 37 No 2  [7'44]
CD9
120
Nocturne in C minor Op 48 No 1  [8'04]
121
Nocturne in F sharp minor Op 48 No 2  [8'39]
122
Nocturne in F minor Op 55 No 1  [5'45]
123
Nocturne in E flat major Op 55 No 2  [5'12]
124
Nocturne in B major Op 62 No 1  [9'09]
125
Nocturne in E major Op 62 No 2  [7'30]
126
Nocturne in E minor Op 72 No 1  [4'50]
127
Nocturne in C minor KKIVb/8  [3'31]
128
129
130
131
132
133
Berceuse in D flat major Op 57  [5'57]
134
Barcarolle in F sharp major Op 60  [8'47]
CD10
135
Waltz in E flat major Op 18  [5'38]
136
Waltz in A flat major Op 34 No 1  [5'54]
137
138
139
140
Waltz in D flat major 'Minute' Op 64 No 1  [1'54]
141
Waltz in C sharp minor Op 64 No 2  [4'02]
142
143
144
145
146
147
148
149
150
151
152
Sostenuto in E flat major 'Waltz' KKIVb/10  [2'18]
153
Waltz in E flat major KKIVa/14  [2'51]
154
Waltz in F sharp minor 'Valse mélancolique' KKIb/7  [3'37]
155
Ecossaises Op 72 No 3  [2'13]
156
157
158
CD11
159
160
161
162
163
164
165
166
167
168
169
170
171
172
173
174
175
176
177
178
179
180
181
182
183
184
185
186
187
CD12
188
189
190
191
192
193
194
195
196
197
198
199
200
201
202
203
204
205
206
207
208
209
210
211
212
213
214
215
CD13
216
Maestoso  [14'33]
217
Larghetto  [9'38]
218
Allegro vivace  [8'29]
219
Allegro maestoso  [20'12]
220
Romance: Larghetto  [10'27]
221
Rondo: Vivace  [9'11]
CD14
222
223
224
225
226
Variation III  [1'28]
227
Variation IV  [1'16]
228
229
230
Andante spianato and Grande Polonaise Op 22  [14'08]
231
Andante spianato  [4'38]
232
Cello Sonata in G minor Op 65  [25'49]

with Carter Brey (cello)
CD15
233
Allegro moderato  [10'45]
234
235
Largo  [3'59]
236
Finale: Allegro  [5'59]
237
238
239
240
241
Adagio sostenuto  [6'12]
242
CD16
243
244
245
246
247
248
249
250
251
252
253
254
255
256
257
258
259
260
261
262

“This monumental recording project first came about when the American record company Arabesque approached me with an irresistible offer to record the complete works of Chopin. I accepted with enthusiasm and an awareness of the magnitude of the task. My total immersion in the Chopin project was enhanced by a concurrent series of recitals of the complete solo works in the US and several European capitals from 1995 to 1997. I am delighted that these recordings are now available again as a boxed set on Hyperion.” Garrick Ohlsson

Since his triumph as winner of the 1970 Chopin International Piano Competition, pianist Garrick Ohlsson has established himself worldwide as a musician of magisterial interpretive and technical prowess.

Awards

PIANIST MAGAZINE RECOMMENDED RECORDING

Reviews

'Hyperion's big deal … Ohlsson is a powerful and committed player, and is afforded very good sound by the engineers … this is almost certainly how these pieces were played in Chopin's time' (The Mail on Sunday)

'This is an oustanding achievement, which any genuine Chopin lover and student of Romantic music should own … a landmark in the recording of Chopin's music … Garrick Ohlsson and Hyperion deserve the greatest success in bringing this important undertaking to such a consistently impressive conclusion' (International Record Review)

'An attractively priced box set … Ohlsson is in a class of his own' (Pianist)

'The collaborative works receive particularly rewarding performances … Ohlsson arguably offers more consistent artistry than Biret, Ashkenazy, Magaloff, and Harasiewicz' (ClassicsToday.com)

'Garrick Ohlsson’s complete survey of everything Chopin wrote for piano (including chamber music, songs, and for piano and orchestra) will delight the completist and the Chopin connoisseur. Ohlsson (who won the Chopin International Piano Competition in 1970) gives us accounts of this wondrous repertoire in weighty and commanding style, aristocratic and impulsive (but not lacking light and shade or contemplative contrasts) and, at times, very sensitive and searching. These vivid recordings were made in the second half of the 1990s and have previously appeared on the Arabesque label. They now sit very well in Hyperion’s catalogue' (ClassicalSource.com)

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Chopin’s very existence is one of pleasing symmetry. Though Polish by birth, he was half-French by blood. Just as his father Nicolas Chopin changed his name to Mikolaj, becoming more Polish than the Poles (and, incidentally, never revealing to his children his French origins), his son, christened Fryderyk Franciszek, metamorphosed into the dandified Parisian known to the world as Frédéric François Chopin. For the first twenty years, his life was based in Poland; for the remainder of his life, just six months shy of a further twenty years, he was based in France. This duality was central to (and is reflected in) his music—the epic struggle and nationalist characteristics of the Poles and the refined elegance of the French.

Chopin was one of the greatest and most original pianists in history. More than any other, he was responsible for the development of modern piano technique and style. His influence on succeeding generations of writers for the instrument was profound and inescapable. He introduced a whole range of new colours, daring harmonies and means of expression in which he exploited every facet of the new developments in piano construction. His career coincided happily with a period in which significant improvements were being made constantly.

Chopin occupies a unique position in the pantheon of great composers in three respects: he wrote no symphonies, operas, ballets or church music, and very little chamber music; his claim to immortality rests not on large-scale works but on miniatures (even his concertos and sonatas are really shortish pieces sewn together into larger classical forms which, he realized early on, were not his strength); thirdly, every single composition that he ever wrote, regardless of form, involves the piano.

Compared to some others—Bach, Schubert and Liszt are just three random examples—he composed very little music. Yet the proportion of it that is regularly played and recorded compared to those three composers is extraordinarily high. It has never fallen out of favour with those who play or listen to it, unlike much of Mozart, say, or Vivaldi. Chopin was hypercritical of everything he wrote and allowed to be published. In contrast with the apparently effortless flow of ideas and melodies, we know that his compositional process was far from fluent. Though an brilliant improviser, the act of committing his works to paper caused him anguish: a glance at some of the autograph scores offers graphic evidence of that. George Sand described Chopin frantically trying to capture on paper all that he had in his head—crossing out, destroying, beginning afresh, scratching out once more, and re-working a single bar until he was satisfied. Yet there are few works that do not seem to be the result of spontaneous inspiration, few that fall below Chopin’s discriminating standard and taste, and few that do not add to the inexhaustible variety of moods and ideas in this remarkable body of work.

Chopin was born in 1810 probably on 1 March (though some sources favour 22 February) in Zelazowa Wola, a small village about twenty miles west of Warsaw. He began his piano studies with Adalbert Zwyny in 1816, made his public debut at the age of nine, and then became a student of Józef Elsner, director of the Warsaw Conservatory. It is largely due to Zwyny and Elsner allowing him to develop in his own way that Chopin became an original creative force. Though far from being his earliest composition, the Rondo in C minor was published in 1825 as his Op 1.

He first attracted attention outside Poland in 1829 when he gave two concerts in Vienna, including a triumphant performance of his Variations on ‘Là ci darem la mano’, Op 2. The fading attractions of Warsaw and his unrequited love for a young soprano persuaded Chopin to leave Poland in November 1830. He never returned. Paris remained his base for the rest of his life.

Here he lived a fashionable life in the highest echelons of society, making his living as a highly paid piano teacher to the aristocracy, gradually turning his back on a career as a pianist in favour of composition. He made his Paris debut in February 1832 but gave no other concert in which he was the principal artist until 1841. It is reckoned that in his entire career Chopin gave as few as thirty public concerts. His art was more suited to the intimate surroundings of the salons and, because of his weak constitution, he was keenly aware that he could not compete with the virile, barn-storming manner of players like Liszt.

For the first six years of his life in Paris, Chopin’s sex life is a blank. He was far from being a Byronic, red-blooded ladies’ man (though he was never short of female admirers). Then in 1836 he met the novelist George Sand and lived with her from 1838 until 1847, dividing his time between Paris and her chatea