LISTSERV mailing list manager LISTSERV 16.0

Help for CLASSICAL Archives


CLASSICAL Archives

CLASSICAL Archives


CLASSICAL@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM


View:

Message:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

By Topic:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

By Author:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

Font:

Proportional Font

LISTSERV Archives

LISTSERV Archives

CLASSICAL Home

CLASSICAL Home

CLASSICAL  April 2005

CLASSICAL April 2005

Subject:

Barenboim Plays Chopin

From:

Donald Satz <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 28 Apr 2005 14:37:31 +0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (157 lines)

   Frederic Chopin (1810-1849)
      Works for Solo Piano

Sonata No. 2 in B flat minor, Op. 35
Sonata No. 3 in B minor, Op. 58
Fantaisie in F minor, Op. 49
Barcarolle in F sharp major, Op. 60
Daniel Barenboim, piano
Recorded 1973-74
Reissued 2004
EMI Encore 85691 [75:25]

24 Preludes, Op. 28
Prelude in C sharp minor, Op. 45
Prelude in A flat, Op. posth.
Berceuse in D flat, Op. 57
Polonaise-fantaisie in A flat, Op. 61
Variations in A (Souvenir de Paganini)
Introduction and Variations on a Theme from Herold's "Ludovic"
Daniel Barenboim, piano
Recorded 1973/76
Reissued 2005
EMI Encore 85453 [74:52]

Comparison Recordings:
Preludes - Argerich/DG, Bolet/Philips, Freire/Sony
Berceuse - Moravec/Vox, Rubinstein/RCA
Polonaise - Horowitz/RCA, Kempff/Decca, Richter/Doremi
Sonata No. 2 - Gornostayeva/Revelation, Horowitz/Sony, Novaes/Vox,
Rubinstein '46' & '61'/RCA
Sonata No. 3 - Argerich/EMI, Freire/Philips, Freire/Decca,
Gornostayeva/Revelation, Kapell/RCA Kempff/Decca, Lipatti/EMI, Novaes/Music
& Arts, Pollack/Infinity Digital, Wirssaladze/Melodiya
Fantaisie - Schliessmann/Bayer, Harasiewicz/Philips, Luisada/RCA
Barcarolle - Favre-Kahn/Arion, Moiseiwitsch/Pearl, Sofronitsky/Philips

Summary: Consistently Disappointing

These two discs are at super-budget price, even lower than a Naxos disc.
Some folks would feel that getting Barenboim at such minimal cost is
a dream come true; others might consider Barenboim a nightmare at any
price.  Generally, I find Barenboim a highly rewarding pianist except
for his infrequent forays into Bach territory.

Well, let's get to the heart of the matter.  It is difficult to warm
up to these two discs because of the sonics and the performances.
The soundstage on both recordings is rather raw and cramped, resulting
in levels of abrasiveness that most listeners will find unattractive;
boosting the volume control only exacerbates the problem.  Concerning
the interpretations, it's a rocky road that Barenboim takes us down,
fluidity apparently not one of his major concerns.  At the same time,
Chopin's most powerful and concentrated utterances are not fully conveyed.

In the Op. 28 Preludes, Barenboim infrequently offers a true legato,
preferring small bumps in his phrasing; although a technically difficult
way to go when presenting fast arpeggios, I find the rewards minimal.
However, the most damaging feature of Barenboim's interpretation concerns
the lack of excitement he brings to the powerful preludes nos.  8, 16,
18, and 24.  In these pieces, the drive and strength is definitely
diminished.  I am somewhat surprised with this tepid approach given that
the preludes nos.  12 and 22 display an abundance of punch and grit.

However, all is not lost.  Barenboim fully conveys the bleakness of nos.
2, 4, and 6.  The serenity he offers in no. 7 is captivating, and there
is no lack of ceremony in no. 9.  Perhaps his most interesting approach
comes in no. 23 that is one of the slowest performances on record at
well over one minute.  Some listeners might find the tempo sluggish,
but I consider the performance very sweet, loving, and luxurious.  So,
Barenboim's way with Op. 28 is very much a mixed bag that is many rungs
below the quality of the comparison versions.

The Berceuse is not a mixed bag; it simply does not fare well in Barenboim's
hands.  At almost five minutes in length, he does not project the buoyancy,
playfulness, spontaneity, or conversational elements present in Rubinstein's
1946 version on RCA.  Ivan Moravec's account on Vox is also quite slow,
but he delivers the security and love absent in Barenboim's rather cool
interpretation.

The three outstanding comparison versions of the Polonaise-fantaisie
take us from the soft and gorgeous refrains of Kempff to the 'take no
prisoner' account of Horowitz.  Kempff's version is the most poetic I
have ever heard, yet he still manages to convey the angst in the music
when required.  With Horowitz, I get the feeling he's ready to exterminate
an entire village; his tremendously strong opening to the introduction
provides a determined sign of what's to come.  Let's not forget the dimly
recorded Richter interpretation.  Richter always overcomes problematic
sound, and his recording of the Polonaise-fantaisie may well be the best
on record with its mesmerizing poignancy and coiled tension.  With many
other excellent recordings of the Polonaise-fantaisie to choose from,
Barenboim's rather slow and sluggish performance does not impress.

Barenboim's "Preludes" disc concludes with two variations works that are
all show and no substance.  Still, they are quite fetching and rarely
found on Chopin recital discs.  Barenboim takes very well to these two
pieces, fully conveying their upbeat and exuberant nature with excellent
virtuosity.  However, when the best performances on a disc are of the
least substantial fare, skepticism rears its head.

Turning now to the other Barenboim offering, the comparison versions for
the Piano Sonata No. 2 should be no surprise except for 1986 recording
of Vera Gornostayeva.  A relative unknown in the Western World, she is
a splendid Chopin performing artist who routinely dives into Chopin's
angst and lyricism; the other two Chopin Sonatas also grace the disc.

Barenboim doesn't improve as the 2nd Sonata commences.  Although he
conveys plenty of power and tension in the Grave introduction to the
first movement, well setting the stage for the "Doppio movimento", he
soon ruins it by allowing the tension to go limp.  As for the lyricism
of the first movement, Barenboim's disinterested performance is a far
cry from the wonderful poetry/poignancy of Horowitz and Rubinstein.  And
again, Barenboim's harsh soundstage is hard to live with.  Fortunately,
the three remaining movements reach a higher standard of performance.
Barenboim generates abundant energy in the hard-driving Scherzo, his
Funeral March is slow and of sufficient weight, and the mercurial final
movement displays a fine sense of detailed disorientation.  Still, the
comparison versions possess greater tension and melting lyricism.

I have included in the heading ten exceptional comparision versions of
the Sonata No. 3, and I wouldn't be surprised if other serious Chopin
enthusiasts recommended at least another ten versions of equal merit.
This Sonata is my favorite of the Romantic era, and it irks me to listen
to an interpretation that does not bring out its driving angst, menace,
ceremony, and a few of the most gorgeous melodies Chopin ever composed.

Barenboim's performance of the 3rd Sonata doesn't irk me, but it also
does not make much of an impression.  He's at his best in the slower
sections, particularly the dream-like middle section of the third movement.
However, there is a lack of consistent drive in the outer movements, and
his display of virtuosity in the second movement is nothing special and
pales next to the thrilling presentation by Martha Argerich.  Best to
stick with the comparison versions.

The wonderful Fantaisie in F minor gets a fairly good presentation by
Barenboim.  He does quite well by the poignant themes, but the necessary
tension of the powerful themes is not fully captured.  Compared to the
Harasiewicz, Schliessmann, and Luisada versions, Barenboim's has little
sweep or display of architectural detail.

Barenboim concludes the disc with a version of the Barcarolle that
should have ended with the first section where the pianist certainly
offers abundant rapture.  However, the more powerful second section finds
Barenboim banging away on the keys with a soundstage that is extremely
harsh; the rapture vanishes.  It is such a relief to move to more fertile
territory with the emotional intensity of Sofronitsky, the transcendent
urgency of Moiseiwitch, and the rugged and determined presentation of
Laura Favre-Kahn.

Don's Conclusions: Neither Barenboim disc is recommended, and I don't
intend to keep my copies.  Too often the music's lyricism is scuttled
by his bumpy legato, its tremendous strength is held in check, and the
soundstage turns powerful phrases into key-pounding exercises.  At no
time does Barenboim touch the comparison versions, and a few works are
clearly below the average.  With so many exceptional Chopin recordings
on the market, Barenboim's efforts can be forgotten.

Don Satz
[log in to unmask]

Top of Message | Previous Page | Permalink

Advanced Options


Options

Log In

Log In

Get Password

Get Password


Search Archives

Search Archives


Subscribe or Unsubscribe

Subscribe or Unsubscribe


Archives

May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
January 2003
December 2002
November 2002
October 2002
September 2002
August 2002
July 2002
June 2002
May 2002
April 2002
March 2002
February 2002
January 2002
December 2001
November 2001
October 2001
September 2001
August 2001
July 2001
June 2001
May 2001
April 2001
March 2001
January 2001
December 2000
November 2000
October 2000
September 2000
August 2000
July 2000
June 2000
May 2000
April 2000
March 2000
February 2000
January 2000
December 1999
November 1999
October 1999
September 1999
August 1999
July 1999
June 1999
May 1999
April 1999
March 1999
February 1999
January 1999
July 1997

ATOM RSS1 RSS2



COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM

Secured by F-Secure Anti-Virus CataList Email List Search Powered by the LISTSERV Email List Manager