Listeners familiar with Paul Badura-Skoda's masterful recordings of the great Viennese classical composers know the Austrian pianist's style to be a surprising but satisfying blend of Old World charm and contemporary virtuosity. But only the most dedicated fans are likely to know his 1956 Westminster recording of Chopin's etudes, Opp. 10 and 25, released here by Music & Arts. Badura-Skoda takes outlandish chances with these familiar virtuoso works. His basic tempos are often close to breakneck, and his impetuous use of rubato might cause whiplash. Yet he pulls it all off, from the jaw-dropping velocity of the "Revolutionary" Étude to the eyeball-popping virtuosity of the "Winter Wind" Étude. Even more impressive, though, is Badura-Skoda's poetic take on the slower and more lyrical etudes, where his abilities to shade a phrase and color a legato line are particularly effective. Joined here by an achingly beautiful trio of mazurkas recorded in 1999, this disc should be welcomed by the pianist's old fans and ought to win him new ones.
AllMusic Review by James Leonard
|Etudes (12) for piano, Op. 10, CT. 14-25|
|Etudes (12) for piano, Op. 25, CT. 26-37|
|Mazurkas (3) for piano, Op. 59, CT. 86-88|