Initially, I did not respond positively to this disc. The tempos seemed painfully slow in all but the Piano Concerto, for which I gave Fabio Luisi (Conductor) high marks. But today I reached for this recording and found something in it that is valuable – a sense of emotion (albeit just a touch slow) and depth of feeling that was not readily apparent at first. Ballade No. 1 in g minor, Op. 23, is tenderly and peacefully played (where appropriate), but forceful and decisive elsewhere. Ballade No. 2 in F Major, Op. 38, is frustrated and energetic, ending resigned, and this one feels just right. Ballade No. 3 in A Flat Major, Op. 47, is gentile and peaceful becoming more decisive and authoritative before a sense of calm playfulness returns. Ballade No. 4 in f minor, Op. 52 is powerfully played, forceful and full, but with a graceful touch too that is captivating and evocative.
As for Piano Concerto No. 2, it is well played and again Fabio Luisi does a marvelous job balancing the musical needs of Ms. de la Salle and the Staatskapelle Dresden. Chopin’s piano writing sings and the other instruments dance around it and interact with it (I particularly liked the bassoon interplay in the 1st movement). The 2nd movement warm and wounded, tentative and confident – yes, these sound somewhat contradictory, but they feel right when you listen to it. The 3rd and final movement starts with sweeping notes dancing across the keyboard, and finishes with the piano playing the part of playful small boy and the orchestra accompanying with proud, positive sounding music. This is not a disc that I would reach for all of the time, but when I’m perhaps a touch melancholy or tired this performance may be just what the doctor ordered.
Submitted on 11/15/10 by KlingonOpera