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

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Reviews: 8

Review by jbcortes May 16, 2003 (1 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I'm not a huge fan of Chopin, so I'm not a good judge of the artistic quality of this record. All I can say is that I'm really disappointed with the sound, especially after reading somewhere that it was first-rate. The piano sounds like it's being played under water, or behind a blanket, remote, hazy, unfocused. Only the lower octave is good, and shows if need be the superiority of SACD over Redbook (PCM fans have obviously never heard a real grand piano in their lives). No glare or brightness, for once, but too much of the opposite!

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Review by Daland July 10, 2004 (4 of 7 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
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.

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Review by Johnno August 1, 2004 (4 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
All I can do is agree wholeheartedly with Darland. This is a truly magnificent disc, with playing of incredible virtuosity and a recording that is technically truly sublime, with as realistic piano timbre as I have heard without actually being there. The works themselves are glorious too, so this becomes a mandatory purchase for all Chopin lovers and for those who want to experience wonderful artistry of the highest level.

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Review by ~~Phil~~ March 6, 2005 (1 of 7 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
A dissapointing SACD - I'm not too overly impressed with the performance and the sound quality is perhaps even worst (It just lacks in many ways - mostly in definition). Although I do think there is some good - It just overall does not work for me...As for what does work for me (Etudes Op. 10, 25.) ....Try the CD recording on DG records from 1972 with Maurizio Pollini - This is far better, IMHO...I think the sound is even better here too.

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Review by darkroommd May 4, 2007 (3 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Being a huge Perahia fan (based on his Bach albums) and an admirer of the Chopin Etudes, buying this disc was a no-brainer. Unfortunately, this has been one of the few disappointing SACD's I have bought. I will let it sit on the shelf for a while, re-audition it from time to time, and hope to like it better. It just doesn't happen...

I must agree with jbcortes' review above that the piano sound is somehow lacking. I cannot describe it better than he does; it just sounds veiled, unfocused, lackluster. In louder sections, the sound seems to coagulate and ring, while the softer sections seem to lack nuance. For those gotta-have-multi-channel folks out there, beware this is stereo only (and not hybrid).

It is too bad that Perahia's fine performance is dampened by the recording. Technically, he is brilliant here, and more powerful than I imagined he could play, considering his masterful Bach playing. Those that have attempted to play (let alone master) Chopin's Etudes, such as myself, will appreciate Perahia's amazing dexterity. However, I am not sold on all of his interpretative choices for Chopin. His rubato doesn't sound "Chopinesque" to me. I get more of a "Beethovenian" feel here, as he seems to rely more on feelings of restlessness, agitation, and stark contrasts.

In summary, while the SACD catalog of Chopin Etudes remains somewhat limited, you may prefer whatever RBCD you already have in your collection.

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Review by nickc May 12, 2007 (3 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Funny - there seeems to be a bit of controversy over this disc. Firstly there should be no controversy over the music!
24 etudes covering every technical challenge - yet the music ranges from pure poetry to titanic outbursts. When we finally reach the last three etudes of opus 25 Chopin just opens up and we get what can only be described as a Niagara in full spate! Listen to the two C minor etudes: the first an explosion of notes up and down the keyboard, the second a pensive study in mood.
Although some may not agree with all of Perahia's decisions the playing is magnificent. Some have hit a few of the pieces even harder (Pollini, Richter etc.)- oh how I wish someone had unleashed the tigress Argerich on them!
The sound seems to be where most of the controversy is. Firstly who was the criminal genius who didn't put a MC layer on this disc? Secondly the piano does sound a bit dull, as if a blanket had been draped over it. Its not too bad but it could have a bit more sparkle.
Anyway recommended!

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Review by canonical March 21, 2009 (4 of 9 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Outrageously good!

I could write a long review to say the same thing, but sometimes ... less is more. Recorded July 2001 (24 bit PCM).
The first etude (Op.10) just dazzles: Perahia's performance is brilliant, the bass sound of the piano is astonishing, and the top range has clarity and sheer zing. Spine-tingling.

Highly recommended.

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Review by operamuso August 10, 2010 (3 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I have little to add to the positive reviews for this disc already posted; but I should like to beg anyone who is lucky enough, as I was recently, to find a copy of this at a reasonable price, not to be put off by the negative reviews on here. The performances are transcendental, and they are faithfully reproduced by a piano recording as stunningly realistic as I have ever heard. I should say it is one of the few recordings worth paying silly Amazon prices for - it doesn't get better than this.

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