Chopin: Ballade No. 1; Ballade No. 2; Ballade No. 3; Ballade No. 4; Scherzo No. 1; Scherzo No. 2; Scherzo No. 3; Scherzo No. 4; Prelude in C sharp minor, Op. 45

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Chopin
LABELS: Decca Legends
WORKS: Ballade No. 1; Ballade No. 2; Ballade No. 3; Ballade No. 4; Scherzo No. 1; Scherzo No. 2; Scherzo No. 3; Scherzo No. 4; Prelude in C sharp minor, Op. 45
PERFORMER: Vladimir Ashkenazy (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 466 499-2 ADD Reissue (1964, 1967)
These recordings show Ashkenazy at the height of his powers as a pianist. In the four Scherzos he takes Chopin’s ‘presto’ markings at face value, and the virtuosity of his vertiginous performances is dazzling. The Ballades, by way of contrast, are lingering accounts: beautiful playing, in all conscience, though there are times when one might have wished the music to flow just a little more naturally. The piano tone in these pieces is a little hard at times, but don’t let that worry you: this disc is an essential acquisition for anyone who loves Chopin – the more of a bargain in that it contains the essence of what was originally housed on two LPs. For an alternative view of the Ballades (and a particularly compelling view of the continual F major/A minor vacillations of No. 3), Murray Perahia’s beautifully recorded 1994 version is warmly recommended. Misha Donat

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