Chopin: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2

Garrick Ohlsson / Jerzy Maksymiuk / Paolo Bordoni / Danielle Laval

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Chopin: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2 Review

by Mike D. Brownell

Although this two-disc set features a wealth of smaller and lesser-known works of Chopin, the collection definitively shines the spotlight on the two piano concertos and the performance of legendary Chopin interpreter Garrick Ohlsson. This remastered recording of the 1976 originals does immense justice to the suave, elegant nature that characterized Ohlsson's Chopin playing, and which was likely responsible for his unexpected victory at the 1970 Chopin International Competition. While his sound is not as robust or full as Arthur Rubinstein (another famed Chopin champion of the same era), his technique is virtually flawless. Every note, nuance, and articulation shines through with remarkable clarity. This is not to say that his playing is mechanistic or unfeeling; rather, Ohlsson gives us a lean and precise performance with appropriate measures of rubato and sentimentality. Chopin was certainly not famous for his orchestral part-writing abilities, yet the Polish Radio NSO does an impressive job of maintaining interest during the orchestral tuttis.

It should be noted that both the English and German translations of the liner notes mistakenly refer to Concerto No. 1 as the "E major" concerto; for some reason only the French version correctly identifies it as E minor. This is a magnificent collection, and listeners unfamiliar with Ohlsson owe it to themselves to give him a try.

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