This two-disc set, one of numerous crossover collections released by the Decca/Universal family of labels, bears the name of Russian pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy only in small print at the end of the list of pieces included. Newcomers to classical music can rest assured that they're getting a two-for-one bonus by purchasing Essential Chopin -- not only an introduction to the Polish-French composer who helped elevate the small solo piano work to the pinnacle of musical art, but also a sampling of the talents of one of the great keyboard artists of our own time. Ashkenazy rumbles with power on the more extended Ballades and the "Revolutionary" Etude in C minor, Op. 10/2, while Chopin's lighter dance-rhythm pieces and lyrical Nocturnes sparkle under Ashkenazy's effortless hands. Essential Chopin would make a good starting place in the world of classical piano music for anybody.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2