Various Artists

Chopin: The Essentials

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Harmonia Mundi's Frédéric Chopin: The Essentials is a quick tour through the master's most famous piano pieces, but because it is a single CD, it is as limited in scope as many other greatest-hits packages. Furthermore, because everything on it is extremely well-known, it offers the casual classical listener little hope for a new discovery. The performers are familiar names from the label's roster, including pianists Frederic Chiu, Alain Planès, and Olga Kern, and the last selection, the Finale of the Piano Concerto No. 1, features Kern with the Warsaw Philharmonic, conducted by Antoni Wit, so the caliber of playing is first-rate. The sound quality is also quite high, thanks to Harmonia Mundi's standards for excellence and the consistent use of digital recordings for the collection. This is but one of many similar compilations released in celebration of Chopin's 200th birthday in 2010, so the duplication of effort increases the chances that listeners will already have something like this CD. But for those who have no Chopin in their collections, this is a decent album to sample.

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