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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CKD250
Recording details: June 2004
Potton Hall, Dunwich, Suffolk, United Kingdom
Produced by Philip Hobbs
Engineered by Philip Hobbs
Release date: February 2006
Total duration: 27 minutes 33 seconds

'Winner of the 1990 Leeds piano competition, the versatile Portuguese-American pianist Artur Pizarro made some fine Beethoven recordings for Linn before turning to Chopin with a collection of favourite solo works entitled 'Reminiscences'. Now he brings his energy, passion and refinement to the harmonically complex Barcarolle, and true virtuoso panache to the Variations brillantes. Romantic music comes naturally to Pizarro; his delicate touch and sense of lyrical line in the second and third sonatas are as elegant and assured as these wonderful works demand' (The Observer)

'Yet it is hard not to be swept along by his torrential but sensitively voiced Chopin interpretations. It is like Chopin played by Liszt. There is a wide variety of colour and touch (as well as a huge energy)—the Second Sonata's funeral march exceptionally austere, its opening movement clangorous and impulsive. The B minor sonata (Op 58)—Chopin at the peak of his genius—is done with a driving force that yet allows its melodic inspirations rich scope' (The Sunday Times)

'When Artur Pizarro released his first Chopin CD (Reminiscences) on Linn Records, the clarity of his playing came as a revelation. It shouldn't have, because that particular characteristic of this distinguished pianist was already well-established. Something special, clearly, was going on. And it continues in his latest Chopin collection, which includes the second and third sonatas. Though Pizarro catches all the epic qualities and heroic elements in the second sonata, his playing is entirely free of bluster and rhetoric. It is so clear in its detail it is almost transparent. In the great funeral march there is nothing portentous, just sheer poetry, and the tender lyricism he finds in the middle section will break your heart. By comparison, the third sonata is a dramatic tour de force, with physical power and intellectual command the hallmarks of a very superior performance. A highly collectable disc from an outstanding pianist' (The Herald)

'Listen to Artur Pizarro play the same sonata [No 2]. Here the architectural structure is evident and the musicality never in question. His brilliant rendition of the early Variations brillantes and Barcarolle on his new disc is on par with the greatest Chopin interpreters. The majestic Sonata No 3 can hardly be bettered and with the fine natural recorded sound this could very well be the Chopin release of the year' (Pianist)

Piano Sonata No 2 in B flat minor, Op 35
composer
third movement originally composed as a separate piece in 1837; completed in Nohant in 1839; published 1840; 'Funeral March' Sonata

Scherzo  [7'13]
Marche funèbre  [11'25]
Presto  [1'37]

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Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Two years after composing the Op 27 Nocturnes, Chopin wrote a Marche funèbre (1837). It was shortly after his hopes of marriage to Teresa Wodzinska had been dashed, but perhaps we should be cautious about inferring too much from that. At any rate two years later, during the summer of 1839 (the first of the seven highly productive summers he spent at George Sand’s country estate at Nohant in the French provinces), he wrote a further three movements to complete his Piano Sonata No 2 in B flat minor Op 35. The work was published the following year (1840). This time Schumann was not so generous. His reference to the four movements as ‘four unruly children smuggled under this name into a place they could not otherwise have penetrated’ is intriguing. As a criticism it is hardly fair, criticizing Chopin for failing to achieve something that was never really in his sights, but at the same time it does point to what is really singular about this work. Of course it is possible to relate it to the historical archetype of the Austro-German sonata (the overall shape, with the funeral march following rather than preceding the scherzo, is close to Beethoven’s Op 26, a sonata that Chopin taught and played), but really Chopin was trying to create something quite different: a new kind of sonata, albeit based on the old kind. Essentially he used the sonata genre as a framework within which the achievements of his earlier music—the figurative patterns of the Études and Preludes, the cantilenas of the Nocturnes, and even the periodicity of the dance pieces—might be drawn together in a kind of synthesis.

It is possible, for example, to analyse the first movement as a sonata form with the inverted reprise that is so characteristic of Chopin (compare the Ballades). But equally it is possible to hear it as a double cycle where figurative patterns are followed by cantilenas. Moreover, just as Nocturnes are embedded in the first movement in this way, so another Nocturne is trapped within the Scherzo and yet another haunts the middle section of the funeral march. In neither of these inner movements does the central song feel like a natural outgrowth of the flanking sections. It remains remote from them, strengthening our impression of a series of contrasted, relatively self-contained musical worlds juxtaposed rather than smoothly joined. And in this reading the notorious finale assumes the character of a baroque-like Étude or Prelude (compare Nos 14 and 19 from the Op 28 Preludes). This in no way diminishes the powerful affective quality of the sequence, where the funeral march yields first to the detached, otherworldly song of its ‘trio’, and then to the disintegrative, harmonically elusive, and purposefully insubstantial finale. But it does reinforce (in a positive way) the gist of Schumann’s observation. The components of this work are formally separated, albeit thematically linked.

from notes by Jim Samson İ 2009


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