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Track(s) taken from CDS44351/66

Ballade No 3 in A flat major, Op 47


Garrick Ohlsson (piano)
Recording details: December 1989
Concordia College, Bronxville, New York, USA
Produced by Ward Botsford
Engineered by Ward Botsford
Release date: November 2008
Total duration: 8 minutes 27 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

Other recordings available for download

Stephen Hough (piano)
Nikolai Demidenko (piano)
James Rhodes (piano)


'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' (Classics Today)

'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' (Classical Source)
After such despondency the Third Ballade seems positively light-hearted. Based on two principal motives contained in the opening bars Chopin’s free-wheeling style once more thinly disguises a remarkable coherence, balance and symmetry. First played before an audience ‘full of golden ribbons, soft blue gauzes and strings of trembling pearls’ its musical charms could hardly fail to succeed. Others, perhaps less lavishly attired, will note that although Chopin’s contrapuntal skill in the working-out section is considerable he wears his learning lightly. With Chopin, art conceals art and the way he achieves such fine gradations and inwardness of feeling is discreetly veiled from view. Even a sudden central change to C sharp minor cannot cloud the music’s radiance for, via a series of daring modulations, the opening theme finally emerges triumphant, firmly established in the home-key and with a final cascade of ideas, previously employed, to suggest tumultuous applause.

from notes by Bryce Morrison © 2004

Après un tel désenchantement, la Troisième Ballade semble étonnamment légère. Elaboré sur deux motifs principaux énoncés dans les premières mesures, le style sans contraintes apparentes de Chopin dissimule à peine une cohérence, un équilibre et une symétrie remarquables. Exécutée pour la première fois devant un parterre plein de rubans dorés, de gaze doucement bleutée et de rangées de perles tremblantes, elle fit preuve d’un charme musical qui ne pouvait que lui assurer son succès. D’autres, d’une tenue peut-être moins somptueuse, noteront que si Chopin fait montre de qualités contrapuntiques considérables dans la section de développement, il ne les pavoise pas pour autant. Avec Chopin, l’art cache l’art. La manière dont il parvient à des nuances aussi subtiles et fines, à des sentiments introspectifs, se dissimule discrètement au regard de tous. Même un brusque changement central vers do dièse mineur ne peut colorer le rayonnement lumineux de la musique car, à travers une série de modulations audacieuses, le thème initial émerge pour finir triomphant, établi fermement dans la tonalité principale et avec une cascade finale d’idées usitées auparavant pour suggérer des applaudissements tumultueux.

extrait des notes rédigées par Bryce Morrison © 2004
Français: Isabelle Battioni

Nach dieser Niedergeschlagenheit erscheint die Dritte Ballade geradezu fröhlich und unbekümmert. Das Stück fußt auf zwei Hauptmotiven, die in den Anfangstakten vorgestellt werden, wo wiederum eine bemerkenswerte Kohärenz, Balance und Symmetrie von Chopins freiem Stil nur leicht verschleiert wird. Als es das erste Mal vor einem Publikum „voller Goldbänder, leichter blauer Taftstoffe und Bändel mit zitternden Perlen“ vorgeführt wurde konnte der musikalische Charme kaum scheitern. Andere, möglicherweise weniger luxuriös gekleidet, werden bemerken, dass Chopin trotz seines kontrapunktischen Vermögens im Durchführungsteil sein Talent kaum anwendet. Bei Chopin verbirgt die Kunst die Kunst, und seine feinen Abstufungen und seine Intimität bleiben stets leicht verschleiert. Sogar ein plötzlicher zentraler Wechsel nach cis-Moll kann den Glanz der Musik nicht trüben, da nach einer Reihe von kühnen Modulationen das Anfangsthema schließlich triumphierend hervortritt und in der Grundtonart fest verankert ist. Eine letzte Kaskade von Einfällen – Ähnliches erklang bereits zuvor – stellt tumultartigen Applaus dar.

aus dem Begleittext von Bryce Morrison © 2004
Deutsch: Viola Scheffel

Other albums featuring this work

Chopin: Ballades & Sonata No 3
Chopin: Four Ballades & Four Scherzos
Studio Master: CDA67456Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
James Rhodes 5
Studio Master: SIGCD371Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
The Stephen Hough Piano Collection
HOUGH1Super-budget price sampler
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