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  PentaTone Classics -
  PTC 5186 341 (2 discs)
  Chopin: The 2 Piano Concertos - Sa Chen, Lawrence Foster
  Frederic Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor Op. 11, Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor Op. 21

Sa Chen (piano)
Gulbenkian Orchestra Lisbon
Lawrence Foster (conductor)
Track listing:
  Classical - Orchestral
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Reviews: 2

Site review by Polly Nomial October 21, 2008
Performance:   Sonics:  
The text for this review has been moved to the new site. You can read it here:

Review by hkpat March 31, 2010 (6 of 9 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
2008 marked a special year in the annals of Chinese history. It was a year of firsts which included the first Olympics in Beijing and the first space walk by Chinese astronauts. If there was one event that could be nominated to represent China in 2008 in Classical Music it was Pentatone’s release featuring the Chinese pianist Chen Sa. Since 2001, this UK record label has been known for its ultimate audio experience on hybrid multichannel SACDs. The present recording project with Sa Chen witnessed the company’s first ever collaboration with a Chinese musician as their soloist. This was also Ms. Chen’s début concerto recording.

A native from Chongqing, China, Sa Chen has since the early 1980s established herself as a world-class pianist. She caught the world’s attention when she won the Crystal Prize at the 12th Van Cliburn Piano Competition in 2005. Before this she had been a prize-winner at the Leeds Competition (1996) and the 4th International Chopin Competition (2000) in the latter of which she was awarded the “Best Polonaise Award”. The audience remarked on her interpretation of the Polonaise-Fantasy in A Flat as the work of a masterly expositor of Chopin’s lyrical spirit. Ever since, Ms. Chen has made a name for herself as a keynote interpreter of Chopin’s works. Listeners could easily pinpoint her signature qualities: delicacy of touch, polished rounded phrases, fluency of expression and introspective lyrical repose.

This release revisits a close relationship between Chen Sa and Chopin. Those who recall Ms. Chen‘s début disc “Chopin Impression” on JVC will find this Pentatone recording a welcome addition to her discography. It is replete with naturally expansive and elegant playing. Listeners will be delighted with her fluent dialogues with the orchestra in the first movement of the E Minor Concerto. Then there’s her splendidly phrased folk mazurka in the exuberant finale of the F Minor Concerto. How stunning also are the orchestral tremolandi in the Larghetto of the F Minor. Throughout the concertos, the music danced and ebbed as required. This recording easily rivals in excellence the recent release by the pianist’s compatriot Lang Lang.

What also sold the performances here was Chen Sa’s skilful ability to capture the youthful spirit and poise of the music as well as its growing maturity. Ms. Chen’s approach reflected the typically Chopin tensions of pianist vs. composer, overt virtuosity vs. restrained lyricism, and Classical vs. Romantic.

An excellent DVD interview with Gramophone Editor James Jolly also accompanies this recording.

By: Patrick P.L. Lam

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Works: 2  

Frederic Chopin - Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor, Op. 11
Frederic Chopin - Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor, Op. 21