Veteran Ukrainian-American Chopin specialist Sergei Edelmann has often performed, taught, and recorded in Japan. Here he offers a program centered on the four Chopin ballades, recorded in the city of Toyama and essentially an all-Japanese project except for the nationality of the pianist. Edelmann is technically well equipped, and he's capable of power and brilliance when he decides to turn them on. What makes these ballad performances distinctive is that he delays the fireworks a bit. Edelmann takes the title "ballade" at its word, crafting discursive interpretations that do have a storytelling quality and seem to build slowly to their powerful finales. When those do come, the payoff is impressive. His dynamic range is vast, his charisma commanding. Although Edelmann came to the U.S. in 1979, this is Russian Chopin in the extreme, following in the mold of Ashkenazy and Sviatoslav Richter. The three works that close out the program, the Barcarolle in F sharp major, Op. 60, the Fantaisie in F minor, Op. 49, and the Polonaise-Fantaisie, Op. 61, in their different ways, give Edelmann a bit less of the rangy space he needs, but at no point is this music less than satisfying. Booklet notes are in Japanese and English, apparently separate texts rather than having been translated from one to the other.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim