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Chopin: 4 Ballades; 4 Impromptus / Davidovich

Album Summary

>Chopin, Frédéric : Ballade for Piano no 1 in G minor, B 66/Op. 23
>Chopin, Frédéric : Ballade for Piano no 2 in F major/a minor, B 102/Op. 38
>Chopin, Frédéric : Ballade for Piano no 3 in A flat major, B 136/Op. 47
>Chopin, Frédéric : Ballade for Piano no 4 in F minor, B 146/Op. 52
>Chopin, Frédéric : Impromptu for Piano no 1 in A flat major, B 110/Op. 29
>Chopin, Frédéric : Impromptu for Piano no 2 in F sharp major, B 129/Op. 36
>Chopin, Frédéric : Impromptu for Piano no 3 in G flat major, b 149/Op. 51
>Chopin, Frédéric : Fantasy-Impromptu for piano in C sharp minor, Op. 66, CT. 46
Performer Composer

Notes & Reviews:

"Bella Davidovich gives excellent accounts of (the Impromptus), in line with her interpretations of the Ballades. The simplicity and directness of the A flat major Impromptu is particularly striking, and the whole is beautifully impulsive." Gramophone Magazine, April 1983

Bella Davidovich was born in Baku in 1928, later moving to Moscow to study with Konstantin Igumnov and Yakov Flier. This Russian training characterizes her musicianship, as evidenced by her frequent performances in her homeland even after her 1978 relocation to the US. Her 1979 Carnegie Hall debut attracted a standing room only audience; she has taught at Juilliard since 1983. Davidovich's sensitivity to Chopin's peculiar and seemingly spontaneous sense of line is rivaled by few others.

"Well, one way or another, you should acquire these performances, if you didn't get them the first time around. (They originally appeared on Philips.) Davidovich, who was in her early to mid-50s when these recordings were made in England (the first three impromptus) and Switzerland (everything else) was in peak condition, and the engineering team complemented her work admirably. (I have this pianist's Melodiya LP of the ballades, and the sound is cruder. Not only that, the Russian vinyl seems to have been recycled from old tractor tires.)

Davidovich is one of those pianists who is always tasteful, but in the most interesting manner. In music that encourages many pianists to stretch the concept of interpretation into one of exaggeration, Davidovich remains sane, and even serene. Now granted, if you demand that a pianist paint the sorrows of Chopin's struggling motherland, or heroes dripping their lifeblood onto scorched Polish soil, Davidovich might not be fanciful enough for you, and someone like Kissin (RCA Red Seal) should satisfy that not unreasonable expectation. However, if you prefer a more objective approach, and playing as well tuned as the engine of a European race car, Davidovich is an excellent choice. Her playing excites not through the application of external pianistic effects, but through her precise and always musical realization of the notes on the printed page. Although her ballades and impromptus are buoyant, they are never inflated! In this, she resembles Arthur Rubinstein." -Fanfare

MusicWeb International
There are good things on this mid-price disc. The "Fantaisie-impromptu" is given an outstanding reading, fresh and stirringly emotive. The first impromptu opens stiffly but ends well, and the momentum carries over into a powerfully hewn second impromptu, the central section of which rings out clear and emphatic. The third ballade, as mentioned, goes well too. Still, these performances won't be dislodging Moravec, Rubinstein, or Arrau from the top of my Chopin shelf. The sound quality, for what it's worth, is very fine, though the piano has a tendency to clang about at its loudest. I am not sure I understand the acclaim which these recordings receive in some quarters, but acclaim there certainly is. It's all a matter of taste. This is well-done Chopin, in the steak sense of the term: cooked to safety all the way through, but a little dry in consequence. I happen to prefer my Chopin rare: tender, with greater give and a hint (just) of rawness at heart. Bella Davidovich feels differently, and even when her recipe leaves me unmoved it does command respect.



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Works Details

>Frédéric Chopin (1810 - 1849) : Ballade for Piano no 1 in G minor, B 66/Op. 23
  • Performer: Bella Davidovich (Piano)
  • Running Time: 10 min. 6 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Written: 1831

>Frédéric Chopin (1810 - 1849) : Ballade for Piano no 2 in F major/a minor, B 102/Op. 38
  • Performer: Bella Davidovich (Piano)
  • Running Time: 7 min. 46 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Written: 1839

>Frédéric Chopin (1810 - 1849) : Ballade for Piano no 3 in A flat major, B 136/Op. 47
  • Performer: Bella Davidovich (Piano)
  • Running Time: 7 min. 50 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Written: 1841

>Frédéric Chopin (1810 - 1849) : Ballade for Piano no 4 in F minor, B 146/Op. 52
  • Performer: Bella Davidovich (Piano)
  • Running Time: 12 min. 1 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Written: 1842-1843

>Frédéric Chopin (1810 - 1849) : Impromptu for Piano no 1 in A flat major, B 110/Op. 29
  • Performer: Bella Davidovich (Piano)
  • Running Time: 3 min. 50 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Written: 1837

>Frédéric Chopin (1810 - 1849) : Impromptu for Piano no 2 in F sharp major, B 129/Op. 36
  • Performer: Bella Davidovich (Piano)
  • Running Time: 6 min. 1 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Written: 1839

>Frédéric Chopin (1810 - 1849) : Impromptu for Piano no 3 in G flat major, b 149/Op. 51
  • Performer: Bella Davidovich (Piano)
  • Running Time: 5 min. 43 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Written: 1842

>Frédéric Chopin (1810 - 1849) : Fantasy-Impromptu for piano in C sharp minor, Op. 66, CT. 46
  • Performer: Bella Davidovich (Piano)
  • Running Time: 5 min. 4 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Written: 1834