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Hyperion Records

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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
Track(s) taken from CDS44351/66
Recording details: June 1997
National Philharmonic Concert Hall, Warsaw, Poland
Produced by Andrzej Sasin
Engineered by Andrzej Sasin & Andrzej Lupa
Release date: November 2008
Total duration: 39 minutes 50 seconds

'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)

Piano Concerto No 1 in E minor, Op 11
composer
first performed, by Chopin, on 22 September 1830; public premiere, again by Chopin, in Warsaw Town Hall on 11 October 1830; published in 1833

Allegro maestoso  [20'12]
Romance: Larghetto  [10'27]
Rondo: Vivace  [9'11]

Other recordings available for download
Ingrid Fliter (piano), Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Jun Märkl (conductor)
Nikolai Demidenko (piano), Philharmonia Orchestra, Heinrich Schiff (conductor)
Heinrich Neuhaus (piano), Moscow Radio Orchestra, Alexander Gauk (conductor)
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Famously, Chopin’s Second Piano Concerto was written before the First. No 1 in E minor Op 11 is so designated simply because it was the first of the two to be published (1833). It is easy to think of these works as standing in isolation, without contemporary equivalents. However, thanks to the availability of recordings, the listening public can now more easily appreciate that the concertos of Hummel, Field, Weber and Moscheles in particular—and to a lesser extent Kalkbrenner, Herz and Ries—provided models for Chopin’s. Indeed, some of the thematic materials of Hummel’s A minor Concerto are strikingly similar to those of the E minor Concerto.

Op 11 has a lengthy orchestral exposition (twice as long as that of Op 21) marked Allegro maestoso. The touching second subject is archetypal Chopin and its first appearance a moment of exquisite beauty. The second movement, labelled Romanza, consists of a yearning nocturne-like theme in E major contrasted with a second subject in B major. He was still working on the Concerto when he wrote a letter dated 15 May 1830 in which he described his thoughts about this movement. It is one of the rare occasions that he made any allusion to the programme behind the music: ‘It is not meant to be loud, it’s more of a romance, quiet, melancholy; it should give the impression of gazing tenderly at a place which brings to mind a thousand dear memories. It is a sort of meditation in beautiful spring weather, but by moonlight. That is why I have muted the accompaniment.’ The final movement (Vivace) is a lively rondo with some resemblance to the krakowiak, a popular Polish folk dance. Despite the Concerto’s key signature, it is, like the Romanza, written in the key of E major. Chopin was the soloist in the first performance, heard privately on 22 September 1830, and again in the work’s public premiere in Warsaw Town Hall on 11 October. It was the last concert he gave before leaving Poland for good.

from notes by Jeremy Nicholas © 2008


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