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CLASSICAL  August 2004

CLASSICAL August 2004

Subject:

An Outstanding Chopin Disc

From:

Donald Satz <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 1 Aug 2004 17:40:04 +0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (78 lines)

   Frederic Chopin (1810-1849)
          Piano Works

Ballade in G minor, Op. 23
Ballade in F major, Op. 38
Ballade in A flat major, Op. 47
Ballade in F minor, Op. 52
Fantaisie in F minor, Op. 49
Barcarolle in F sharp minor, Op. 60
Polonaise-Fantaisie in A flat major, Op. 61

Burkard Schliessmann, piano
Recorded April 2002
Hybrid SACD playable on SACD players and standard CD players
Bayer Records BR 100 348 CD [70:54]

Performer: Mr. Schliessmann is one of the very few young-adult pianists
who I consider likely to attain legendary status by the end of his career.
The technique is assured and expert, musical instinct is fabulous, and
intellect is abundant and based on extensive research into biographical
and cultural considerations.  Above all else, Schliessmann conveys the
cohesive properties of a piece of music with an architectural sweep
second to none.

Schliessmann has been recording for the Bayer label, and every one of
his few recordings possesses the above qualities.  An artist who challenges
us to re-think our preconceptions of music and composers, Schliessmann
combines the individualized interpretive stance of the great early 20th
century pianists with the technical wizardry demanded of the 21st century
pianist.

Chopin Performances: Each one is a gem and loaded with new insights.
Schliessmann gives us demonstrative pauses at the end of motifs in the
Ballade in G minor instead of legato transitioning; this approach
significantly alters and expands on the emotional content of the first
subject.

In the Ballade in F major's gorgeous first subject, Schliessmann's
lilting phrases seem to make time stand still while also offering spiritual
closure.  Later, the tremendous bass strokes growl with exquisite detail
from their foundation.

Schliessmann's Ballade in F minor has me on the edge of my seat anxiously
waiting for fulfillment.  Never before have I head a version that makes
me so strongly aware of the pent-up human urges seething below the music's
surface but taking so long to erupt.  Schliessmann is a master of the
long line, and it is on glorious display in the F minor.

The performance of the Fantaisie in F minor is perhaps Schliessmann's
crowning glory of his Chopin program.  I consider the work Chopin's best
large-scale piano composition with its transcendent and constant invention.
Heroism is at the heart of the F minor, and nobody delivers it as
completely as Schliessmann.  Even in the prayer-like intermezzo, he
conveys a confident and proud demeanor.  Further, the narrative properties
of the interpretation are spell-binding, and I detect some very angry
and brutal elements I've not heard before in other versions.

Sound Quality: Not owning an SACD player, I first listened to the disc
on my standard equipment.  The sound is excellent with ample resonance
and superb depth and richness, allowing Burkard's detail to ring through
convincingly.  I did locate a fellow classical music enthusiast in
Albuquerque who has the SACD and related equipment; we both found the
sound significantly upgraded in terms of clarity and depth.  Also, there
are nuances that don't come through as clearly on a standard CD player.
However, I assure readers that performances as good as Schliessmann's
are compelling no matter what equipment is being employed.

Don's Conclusion: Distinctive and riveting performances essential for
all piano enthusiasts.  Burkard Schliessmann has it all: detail, sweep,
narration, inflections from upper voices that pierce the heart, and
strongly projected bass voices that contrast magnificently with primary
melody lines.  From this reviewer's perspective, Schliessmann stands
tall on the pedestal of greatness occupied by the legends of the keyboard
including Alfred Cortot, Walter Gieseking, and Claudio Arrau.

Don Satz
[log in to unmask]

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