FRYDERYK CHOPIN (1810—49) : Mazurka in F sharp minor, Op. 6 No. 1, Mazurka in C sharp minor, Op. 6 No. 2, Mazurka in F minor, Op. 7 No. 3, Ballade No. 4 in F minor, Op. 52, Nocturne in G minor, Op. 15 No. 3, Mazurka in G minor, Op. 67 No. 2, Three Mazurkas, Op. 50, Ballade No. 2 in F major, Op. 38, Mazurka in C major, Op. 67 No. 3, Four Mazurkas, Op. 41, Waltz in A flat major, Op. 64 No. 3, Scherzo No. 4 in E major, Op. 54, Waltz in E major, WN 18, Sostenuto in E flat major, WN 53, Cantabile in B flat major, WN 43, Moderato in E major, WN 56. Anna Zassimova, piano.

Catalogue Number: 09Z016

Label: BIS

Reference: BIS-2619

Format: CD

Price: $19.99

Description: As regular customers will know, Records International is almost exclusively repertoire-driven, though we do make occasional exceptions and feature relatively "standard" repertoire when it’s coupled with something rare, or is part of a comprehensive retrospective of some historically significant conductor, or played by the redoubtable M-A Hamelin. So we hope to be forgiven for bringing you another such, containing pianism of such rare calibre and interpretations of such exemplary quality as to represent an ideal in performance that one is seldom privileged to encounter in any repertoire. Ms Zassimova is already well known to repertoire collectors for her recordings of rare Russian music of the early 20th century (09U075), of which we wrote: "This ingeniously programmed recital is imbued throughout with nostalgia for the vanished world of Russian Romanticism, swept aside by the tumultuous events of the 20th century but leaving a rich legacy of superb fin-de-ciècle music bracketing the turn of the twentieth century, much of it largely forgotten these days", as well as an earlier recital of Russian music (10L060), rarities from the Ruhr Piano Festival (04T084 and 04W024), and most recently, Catoire’s Piano Quintet (07Z007). She does not shun "standard" repertoire, though, far from it, and has repeatedly proven herself in performances of extraordinary originality and individuality which have nothing to fear from comparison with the keyboard titans of the past. Last year she released a recording of Romantic repertoire associated with the city of Vienna, by Schumann, Brahms, Clara Wieck et al., which we hope to make available in the USA for the first time later this year, and here she turns her attention to Chopin. The f minor Ballade, which you think you know, from the many excellent performances (and myriad less distinguished ones) which it has received over the years, is presented here in a reading of breathtaking originality, brimful of detail and character, the work's enormous emotional range fully explored. The pianist embraces and relishes extremes of contrast, and Chopin's range of expression, from the most delicate filigree figuration to furious outbursts of passion that threaten to transcend the bounds of pianistic decorum, are fearlessly exploited to the fullest. The Second Ballade, in F Major, also receives a revelatory reading, its gentle, pastoral opening, closing, and central sections, beguilingly taken at a relaxed and leisurely, flexible tempo, rendering the abrupt intrusion of the stormy twin climaxes of the work all the more shocking by contrast. The Scherzo No.4, alternately turbulent and melancholy, elicits flights of scintillating virtuosity, and melodic eloquence, in the philosophically melancholy central section, from the pianist. Throughout this beautifully programmed and conceived recital, as through the composer’s life, like a luminous thread, runs a succession of Mazurkas, perhaps Chopin’s most personal and characteristic genre. As the booklet notes put it: "The mazurkas can be seen as a kind of diary that Chopin kept throughout his life as an artist, reflecting his deep-rooted attachment to Poland. He explained in a letter that these pieces were not intended to be danced to: in them, folklore is entire- ly recreated and stylized through the three original dance types – the rather slow kujawiak, the livelier oberek and the mazur with its greater variety of accentuation." Ranging from the salonesque to the tragic Op.50, No.3, from the profoundly introspective to the boisterously extrovert, these miniature gems receive performances of great character and the kind of attention to detail usually lavished on "major" works of imposing dimensions. Four seldom-played rarities are included, the E Major Waltz, Sostenuto, Cantabile, and Moderato, all occasional pieces and gifts for friends, and all imbued with a sense of elegance, tenderness, and charm. The notes - by composer-pianist Christophe Sirodeau - are exemplary in their descriptive finesse, musical discernment, and encyclopædic context-setting. Anna Zassimova, piano.


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