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Fanfare. Chopin Concertos

CHOPIN Piano Concertos Nos. 1 and 2. Fantasy on Polish Airs. Krakowiak.Variations on Mozart’s “Là ci darem la mano.” Andante spianato and Grande Polonaise brillante  Ÿ  
CHOPIN Piano Concertos Nos. 1 and 2. Fantasy on Polish Airs. Krakowiak.Variations on Mozart’s “Là ci darem la mano.” Andante spianato and Grande Polonaise brillante  Ÿ 
Oleg Marshev (pf); David Porcelijncond; South Denmark Phil.  ŸDANACORD 701-702 (2 CDs: 136:06)
Chopin pianists are a breed apart. Sovereign technique must be taken for granted. Yet Chopin playing never can be mere bravura. Of all the great composers, Chopin is the one who speaks most to the masses. A pianist must identify fully with the popular elements in his music, the singing line and the dance rhythms. Chopin playing rarely succeeds if it descends to the abstract or the arcane. Then there is the issue of Chopin’s harmony, which a player must master to create the special ambience of his music. Put all together, these elements should coalesce into a sound one regards as quintessentially Chopin. One of the reasons Arthur Rubinstein was widely regarded as a fine Chopin player is that, whatever you thought of his interpretations, his sound after a few bars made you think, “Chopin.” Oleg Marshev has this same gift. I love his playing. It was interesting to compare his set of the complete works for piano and orchestra with that of Garrick Ohlsson, certainly an eminent Chopin player. Where Ohlsson is concerned with the microeconomics of Chopin playing, Marshev is more in tune with the macroeconomics. For Ohlsson, playing these works is about getting a rhythm right here, an accent right there. Marshev, however, is more interested in the sweep of the music, its cascading structures. No matter how intricately he spins out its expression, the pulse of Chopin’s long line always is maintained. Ohlsson is like a riveter working on a building, while Marshev is its architect. Marshev is the kind of complete artist for whom the entire layout of his interpretation of a piece of music is implicit right from the very beginning of his playing it. And here, after a few bars, you hear yourself think, “Ah, Chopin!” No recording of Chopin’s music in the past few years has given me more pleasure than this one.

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