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Chopin Edition [17 CDs]

Chopin Edition [17 CDs]

Regular price $64.99 USD
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This refreshed Chopin Edition from Brilliant Classics retains many of the definitive recordings from its predecessor of 2015, but boasting some exciting updates. The Concertos and piano concertante music are consolidated in a bright new cycle from Czechia, recorded last autumn by Siberian superstar Ekaterina Litvintseva and the KFPar under Mardirossian. Schmitt-Leonardy’s sonatas are joined by No. 1 – recorded late in 2015, and therefore just missing inclusion in the previous edition – bringing the complete cycle under his fingers. Alwin Bär’s own Scherzi performances are reunited with his iconic 1998 recording of the Barcarolle, Fantasy and Berceuse. The Études are featured in a stunning complete cycle recorded in 2014 by the phenomenal Chopinist and 2023 OPUS KLASSIK double-nominee Zlata Chochieva. Finally the complete Nocturnes are given over to another noted young Chopin interpreter: the 2018 Geza Anda winner Claire Huangci, who recorded the set two years earlier, in 2016.


In 2015 Brilliant Classics issued a complete Chopin edition culled from both original productions and licensed recordings from other labels, and featuring a variety of musicians. The label’s revised 2023 Chopin edition retains roughly two-thirds of the contents, while substituting about six CDs worth of alternative performances. Is it “new and improved”? Mostly yes. Here is a rundown of the contents:

Discs 1 & 2: The 2015 Chopin box featured Eva Kupiec in the two concertos (amazingly conducted by Stanislaw Skrowaczewski), with Abbey Simon in the other concerted works. Here we have less individual yet elegantly transparent performances of the entire Chopin piano/orchestra oeuvre with Ekaterina Litvintseva, supported by Vahan Mardirossian leading the Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice.

Discs 3 & 4: The well-played chamber works with violinist Duccio Ceccanti, cellist Vittorio Ceccanti, and pianist Simone Gragnani are held over from 2015. So are Anna Haase’s slightly tremulous yet heartfelt Polish songs, superbly accompanied by Lucius Rühl.

Disc 5: Zlata Chochieva’s Etudes count among my top five recommendations in these works, wisely replacing Alessandro Deljavan’s mannered and overloaded readings.

Disc 6: As before, we have Wolfram Schmitt-Leonardy’s intelligently paced and imaginatively detailed Ballades and Impromptus.

Disc 7: Folke Nauta’s broad and sonorous readings of the standard seven Polonaises are back, along with his rather underplayed Andante spianato e Grande polonaise.

Disc 8: The youthful Polonaises plus unimportant minor works like the Bourées, the Largo in E-flat, and the Fugue again turn up in Alessandra Ammaro’s splendid and mindfully virtuosic renditions.

Disc 9: The label replaces Fred Oldenburg’s good, workmanlike recording of the First sonata with a superior version from Wolfram Schmitt-Leonardy, while retaining the latter’s wonderful Second and Third sonatas. Recently I compared his recording of the Second sonata’s strange Finale next to those of Horowitz and Rubinstein, and actually found Schmitt-Leonardy’s creative inflections more engaging (sound clip).

Disc 10: In place of Ivan Moravec’s Four Scherzos (originally issued by Dorian), we have Alwin Bär’s scintillating 1998 cycle, coupled with his equally compelling Fantasy in F minor and Barcarolle, along with a rather fussy Berceuse.

Disc 11: A hodgepodge of performances. I raved in detail about Schmitt-Leonardy’s reference-worthy Op. 28 Preludes when they first came out. Paolo Giacometti shines in the C-sharp minor Prelude Op. 45, Oldenburg serves up the Three Ecossaises quite well, while Marian Mika plays two versions each of the Waltz in F minor Op. 70 No. 2 and the Funeral March Op. 72 No. 2 using alternative texts.

Discs 12 & 13: Rem Urasin’s Mazurka cycle evokes the high rhetoric and subjectivity of pianists like Jean-Marc Luisada and Andrew Rangell, minus their eccentricity. Just don’t expect lightness, humor, or snappy embellishments.

Discs 14 & 15: Claire Huangci’s rippling and graceful pianism in the Nocturnes differs from the seasoned drama of the Earl Wild cycle that appeared in the 2015 box. The Duo Pianistico di Firenze’s Rondo Op. 73 and Variations in D fill out CD 15.

Disc 16: Alessandro Deljavan works overtime trying to emulate the great Romantic pianists, yet his lurching phrasings and contrived voicings throughout the Waltzes often belabor the obvious and fail to ring true. The piano itself sounds poorly regulated, and doesn’t always hold its tuning.

Disc 17: Frank van de Laar basically picks up the slack, playing the Rondos, the Variations brilliantes Op. 12, the Bolero Op. 19, the Allegro de concert Op. 46, and the Tarantella Op. 43 with plenty of finesse and good taste, if not quite matching Vladimir Ashkenazy’s ebullience.

For its attractive price tag and overall consistency (have Rubinstein’s Waltzes and Mazurkas handy, though!) Brilliant Classics’ 2023 Chopin Edition holds its own alongside similar multi-artist complete Chopin collections on other labels featuring bigger names. It should appeal to general music lovers just getting started with Chopin’s music who wish to take a deep dive into the composer’s oeuvre.

-- (Jed Distler)

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  • Release Specifications

    • Number of Discs: 17
    • Release Date:
    • Label: Brilliant Classics
    • UPC/Barcode: 5028421969060
    • Item Number: BRI96906