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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: 8 minutes 41 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)

Variations brillantes in B flat major on 'Je vends des scapulaires' from Hérold's Ludovic, Op 12
composer
1833

Other recordings available for download
Garrick Ohlsson (piano)
Introduction
In May 1833 Chopin heard Louis Joseph Ferdinand Herold’s (1791–1833) opera Ludovic, finished by Hálevy. The Variations brillantes “Je vends des Scapulaires” Op 12, based on the homonymous aria from the opera, are Chopin’s final variation set and a virtual farewell to the virtuoso style cherished in Paris. Written after the early nocturnes and etudes and in the year he wrote his first ballade, it almost represents a regression or a final concession to the bravura stile brillante, so much clichéd—in particular in variation form—that it entered dictionaries as such: 'First there are simple quavers and triplets, then arpeggios, syncopations and octaves, without forgetting the adagio in the relative mode and the tempo di polacca' (Castil-Blaze, Dictionnaire de Musique Moderne, 1825). Although Arthur Loesser called it 'a masterpiece in its own way', already at the time Schumann called it 'writing à la mode' and thought that 'they belong altogether to the drawing-room or concert-hall, and … are far removed from any poetic sphere'. This piece, together with Bolero and Rondo, Op 16, represents Chopin’s last attempt at such conventional and fairly anonymous writing that perpetrated the tradition of contemporary concert-hall crowd pleasers. Nevertheless, Franz Liszt apparently referred to the set as Chopin’s favourite piece of his own, commenting after hearing Chopin play it for himself: 'Such a poetic temperament as Chopin’s never existed, nor have I ever heard such delicacy and refinement of playing. The tone, though small, was absolutely beyond criticism, and although his execution was not forcible, nor by any means fitted for the concert room, still it was perfect in the extreme.'

from notes by Robert Andres © 2005


Other albums featuring this work
'Chopin: The Complete Works' (CDS44351/66)
Chopin: The Complete Works
MP3 £45.00FLAC £45.00ALAC £45.00Buy by post £50.00 CDS44351/66  16CDs Boxed set (at a special price)  

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