Chopin’s two concertos date from early in his career, and the Second was actually completed before the work published as No.1. They are both supreme examples of the early-Romantic piano concerto, and the influence of Hummel and Field can be heard in many places throughout both works. That is not to say that these works are in any way derivative.
Chopin developed the styles and techniques of these keyboard masters (he performed their concertos frequently) and created his own distinct keyboard style. These concertos have often been criticised for their ‘wooden’ orchestration, but Chopin kept the involvement of the orchestra to a minimum so they could be performed with a small string ensemble – something both Hummel and Moscheles had in mind with their concertos.
The 4 Ballades and the Fantaisie show Chopin at the height of his powers, and writing in the smaller forms that suited his genius perfectly, though the Fantaisie is by no means a small-scale work.
In the hands of Jorge Bolet (1914–1990), Chopin’s music comes alive in a way few pianists have managed before or since. Bolet was Cuban by birth, studied piano from the age of five, and made his debut aged nine. His teachers included Leopold Godowsky and Josef Hofmann.
Recordings made in 1986 and 1989 by legendary producer Ray Minshull.
New booklet notes by French piano connoisseur Jean-Charles Hoffélé.
‘This leisure results in most beautiful slow movements, particularly the Larghetto of the F minor Concerto, inspired by its 19-year-old composer’s first great love. The melody not only sings but speaks (with some telling emphasis of inner subtleties of craftsmanship), and the filigree decoration has an exquisite fingertip delicacy … In sum, performances of indisputable love and care.’ Gramophone, December 1990
“Bolet's Chopin playing has some stunning moments of eloquence”
Click on any of the works listed above for alternative recordings.