Yuan Sheng

Chopin: 4 Ballades; 4 Impromptus; 24 Preludes; 20 Nocturnes

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AllMusic Review by

Yuan Sheng's triple-disc release on Piano Classics presents the music of Frédéric Chopin as played on a Pleyel grand piano from 1845, and the results are problematic. Every Chopin admirer should at some point hear the pianos that he played or knew from La Salle Pleyel in Paris, and some may own recordings of these vintage instruments. However, it's asking a lot of a general audience to sit through 78 minutes' worth of music played on an antique piano, even when it's performed with panâche and sensitivity by a talented artist. Sheng has much to offer in the 4 Ballades, the 4 Impromptus, the 24 Preludes, and the 20 Nocturnes, because he has great technical ability and expressive control, and if heard under other circumstances on a modern grand piano, his skill and artistry would be obvious to any listener. But the quirky sound of the Pleyel grand piano -- a combination of a muddy bass register, heavy middle range, and tinny upper notes, all slightly out of tune and blurry in the highly resonant acoustics -- is probably not what most listeners are prepared to hear or accept. Even familiarity with Chopin's music is not enough to make this an easy album to absorb. This set is not recommended as a first-time recording for beginners, nor even as a go-to album for most listeners, but it holds some interest for students of historical instruments and period performance style.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
24 Preludes, Op. 28
1 0:41
2 1:59
3 1:00
4 1:50
5 0:37
6 1:54
7 0:47
8 1:46
9 1:14
10 0:32
11 0:40
12 1:16
13 3:11
14 0:36
15 5:15
16 1:10
17 3:13
18 1:05
19 1:18
20 1:51
21 1:54
22 0:55
23 1:02
24 2:52
25 5:29
26 4:34
27 6:41
28 4:30
29 3:33
30 4:05
31 4:41
32 5:29
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