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Discussion: Chopin: Etudes Opp. 10, 25 - Perahia

Posts: 9

Post by Daland July 10, 2004 (1 of 9)
A stunning recording. These performances are simply overwhelming. The sound can hardly be bettered in terms of clarity, brilliance and transparency. It is full-bodied, warm and natural in every respect. And surely there has been no pianist in recent years who can match Perahia in interpretative insight and expressive power. Even Rubinstein avoided Chopin's Etudes because he found them too challenging. Perahia accepted the challenge and proved equal to it.

Post by LC July 11, 2004 (2 of 9)
Daland said:

A stunning recording.

And surely there has been no pianist in recent years who can match Perahia in interpretative insight and expressive power.

I like this recording a lot, too. If I had to make an absolute choice for a favourite, I think I would still prefer Pollini, but his Etudes is a 1972 ADD recording that is really no comparison to the Sony. I'm glad I have both. The last time I listened to the Chopin Etudes, I alternated between Perahia and Pollini (both Op. 10, then both Op.25). That was rewarding. By the way, as good as this Sony recording is, I think for solo piano, their Volodos Schubert recording is even better. That's also a fantastic performance.

Post by tream July 11, 2004 (3 of 9)
Daland said:

A stunning recording. These performances are simply overwhelming. The sound can hardly be bettered in terms of clarity, brilliance and transparency. It is full-bodied, warm and natural in every respect. And surely there has been no pianist in recent years who can match Perahia in interpretative insight and expressive power. Even Rubinstein avoided Chopin's Etudes because he found them too challenging. Perahia accepted the challenge and proved equal to it.

I have several discs of Perahia - Schumann, Bach, Mozart - while I admire the artistry and acknowledge the rave reviews, for whatever reason I have always found his work to be detached emotionally and focused on the execution and not the message; e.g., not my cup of tea. I have owned the Pollini in several formats, and love it, but my real touchstone for the Etudes is the Arrau on EMI. Mine is a minority opinion on Perahia, I know. Seems like everyone raves about his work, so it is an interesting thing to see.

Post by Daland July 12, 2004 (4 of 9)
tream said:

I have several discs of Perahia - Schumann, Bach, Mozart - while I admire the artistry and acknowledge the rave reviews, for whatever reason I have always found his work to be detached emotionally and focused on the execution and not the message; e.g., not my cup of tea. I have owned the Pollini in several formats, and love it, but my real touchstone for the Etudes is the Arrau on EMI. Mine is a minority opinion on Perahia, I know. Seems like everyone raves about his work, so it is an interesting thing to see.

I heard Perahia in a solo recital here in Berlin a few years ago and didn't find him emotionally detached. But I agree with you that Arrau set standards which are difficult to meet nowadays (and I like his Chopin, which some critics treated rather disparagingly). I have a whole collection of Chopin pieces by him (released by Philips some time ago), which unfortunately do not include the Etudes. Is the EMI recording you mentioned a very old one?

One final point: I think that at last we have a format which reproduces the piano sound very realistically, even in stereo (although multi-channel is even better). When I listened recently to some piano CDs which I had found very satisfying (in technical terms) only a year or so ago, the sound struck me as rather muddled and clangy. This was because I had got accustomed to the much more natural piano sound on SACD (Pletnev, Perahia, Lang Lang, Volodos, Pollini, Horowitz).

Post by tream July 12, 2004 (5 of 9)
Daland said:

I heard Perahia in a solo recital here in Berlin a few years ago and didn't find him emotionally detached. But I agree with you that Arrau set standards which are difficult to meet nowadays (and I like his Chopin, which some critics treated rather disparagingly). I have a whole collection of Chopin pieces by him (released by Philips some time ago), which unfortunately do not include the Etudes. Is the EMI recording you mentioned a very old one?

One final point: I think that at last we have a format which reproduces the piano sound very realistically, even in stereo (although multi-channel is even better). When I listened recently to some piano CDs which I had found very satisfying (in technical terms) only a year or so ago, the sound struck me as rather muddled and clangy. This was because I had got accustomed to the much more natural piano sound on SACD (Pletnev, Perahia, Lang Lang, Volodos, Pollini, Horowitz).

Yes, the EMI set dates from the late 50's, if memory serves. I have the LP's of the Arrau Nocturnes-they are excellent. Interesting point about the natural sound of piano on SACD-I haven't purchased that many solo piano discs on SACD yet, just the Uchida Schubert.

Post by LC July 12, 2004 (6 of 9)
tream said:

Interesting point about the natural sound of piano on SACD-I haven't purchased that many solo piano discs on SACD yet, just the Uchida Schubert.

I like Uchida's Schubert and have almost all of that set. I was happy but not thrilled with the one SACD version they've released. (But then, I've never really been thrilled with any Philips recording.) If you enjoy Schubert's piano music and haven't heard much solo piano on SACD, you must get the Volodos Schubert on Sony.

Post by tream July 12, 2004 (7 of 9)
LC said:

I like Uchida's Schubert and have almost all of that set. I was happy but not thrilled with the one SACD version they've released. (But then, I've never really been thrilled with any Philips recording.) If you enjoy Schubert's piano music and haven't heard much solo piano on SACD, you must get the Volodos Schubert on Sony.

I'm sure you would make Stephen really happy if you posted a review!
Thanks for the input.

Post by Orpheus January 26, 2008 (8 of 9)
I've only heard Perahia playing a few of these Etudes and whilst expectantly well played, he is no match for my favourite in these works, the intense Andrei Gavrilov, which is available cheaply on an EMI reissue and very much worth every cent that you pay for it.

I wish that well known pianists would abandon the staid Liszt style of playing and put plenty of passion into their playing like Andrei Gavrilov does. I've heard young unknown pianists put plenty of passion into their playing resulting in far better interpretations than well known and well recorded pianists.

Post by akiralx January 30, 2008 (9 of 9)
Orpheus said:

I've only heard Perahia playing a few of these Etudes and whilst expectantly well played, he is no match for my favourite in these works, the intense Andrei Gavrilov, which is available cheaply on an EMI reissue and very much worth every cent that you pay for it.

I wish that well known pianists would abandon the staid Liszt style of playing and put plenty of passion into their playing like Andrei Gavrilov does. I've heard young unknown pianists put plenty of passion into their playing resulting in far better interpretations than well known and well recorded pianists.

Yes, a fine pianist - Gavrilov's EMI recording of Prokofiev's First Concerto is my favourite, he is very talented if occasionally too dramatic.

Richter was an admirer, of course, and they famously recorded the Handel Suites together - with Gavrilov bringing a bottle of brandy to the late night sessions, which Richter appreciated enormously. In his memoirs he amusingly mentions Gavrilov's habit of 'inflicting' his recording of Tchaikovsky's First Concerto on any passenger in his car.

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