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A collection of pieces from the early works of Frederyk Chopin which highlight both the brilliance of his innovation as a composer and the new possibilities of emotional subtlety that he created for the instrument.

This DVD features Chopin’s Preludes Opus 28 performed by Alfredo Perl; the Etudes Op. 10 and Op. 25, performed by Freddy Kempf and the Sonata in B flat minor, Opus 35 played by Angela Hewitt.

Chilean-born Alfredo Perl was recently praised for the 'sparkling freshness, extraordinary tenderness and unaffected brilliance' of his playing. Here he performs and delights in the imaginative splendour of Chopin's 24 Preludes recorded in Scotland’s finest stately home, Hopetoun House, Edinburgh.

Chopin's two sets of piano Etudes (Op. 10 and 25) make massive demands on pianistic technique, but they are first and foremost musical statements that all exhibit a very clear structure, and take the listener on a poetic and romantic voyage of discovery. Freddy Kempf, born in 1977, has been making waves in the world of music since becoming the youngest winner of the BBC Young Musician award. He performs these works in the beautiful location of the Chateau de Neuville, Gambais with a combination of spontaneity and extreme sensitivity.

Angela Hewitt is a phenomenal artist who has established herself at the highest level over the last few years. Although primarily known for her recordings of Bach’s music she is equally at home with the music of Chopin and performs the meaty Sonata in B flat Minor Opus 35 with great dignity.

This DVD contains more than two hours of beautiful music for solo piano by one of the instrument’s best-loved composers. Atmospherically filmed in evocative settings in France and the UK and reproduced in top quality sound and vision, these new 2003 recordings are a must for any lover of piano music.

Repertoire Préludes, Opus 28
No 1 – C Major, No 2 – A Minor, No 3 – G Major, No 4 – E Minor, No 5 – D Major, No 6 – B Minor, No 7 – A Major,No 8 – F Sharp Minor, No 9 – E Major, No 10 – C Sharp Minor, No 11 – B Major, No 12 – G Sharp Minor, No 13 – F Sharp Major, No 14 – E Flat Minor, No 15 – D Flat Major, No 16 – B Flat Minor, No 17 – A Flat Major, No 18 – F Minor, No 19 – E Flat Major, No 20 – C Minor, No 21 – B Flat Major, No 22 – G Minor, No 23 – F Major, No 24 – D Minor

Etudes Opus 10
No 1 – C Major, No 2 – A Minor, No 3 – E Major, No 4 – C Sharp Minor, No 5 – G Flat Major, No 6 – E Flat Minor,No 7 – C Major, No 8 – F Major, No 9 – F Minor, No 10 – A Flat Major, No 11 – E Flat Major, No 12 – C Minor

Etudes Opus 25
No 1 – A Flat Major, No 2 – F Minor, No 3 – F Major, No 4 – A Minor, No 5 – E Minor, No 6 – G Sharp Minor,No 7 – C Sharp Minor, No 8 – D Flat Major, No 9 – G Flat Major, No 10 – B Minor, No 11 – A Minor, No 12 – C Minor

"...extraordinary quality ... fiendish study exercises….often seem like poignant and pictorial music."
David Vickers, from The Guardian (on Freddy Kempf’s Chopin Etudes)

'This DVD contains more visual interest than one would have thought possible, without indulging in pointless effects that distract the viewer / listener from Chopin’s music. The Préludes and two sets of Études, each of which is an extended sequence of shorter pieces, take on an added meaning when heard in proximity to each other. What emerges from this is Chopin reconciling technical and expressive aims from opposite ends of the spectrum.
Alfredo Perl and Freddy Kempf are pianists equally strong in technique, but temperamentally different as suggested by their facial expression while playing. Perl appears to be in a state of rapt communing, while Kempf looks cooler and more impassive. Somehow their mien and body language seem suited to the Préludes and Études respectively, and throughout one has the feeling that each of them is playing the appropriate music.
Among the best moments in Perl’s traversal of Op. 28 is No. 6 in B minor (the less official ‘Raindrop’), wherein he maintains a perfect balance between the incessant droplets in the right hand and the ‘cello line’ of the left. Then No. 13 in F sharp, most nocturne-like of the set and here given an inner glow. Another success is No. 17 in A flat, which has lovely light and shade but never cloys as it sometimes does in other hands. Finally, he spins the delicate lacework of No. 23 in F before tempering the steel of No. 24 in D minor.
Kempf plays the Études with great assurance and unflamboyant virtuosity. His fingers are long and his hand-span wide, and these enable him to surmount Chopin’s technical hurdles, which can be physically tiring even within the relatively short duration of each Étude. Of the slower ones, the E major, Op. 10 No. 3 elicits a broad range of internal tempos that Kempf integrates convincingly, while the left-hand recitative and ‘cello’ cantilena of the C sharp minor, Op. 25 No. 7 stimulate some legitimate, expressive rubatos.
Hopetoun House in Edinburgh and the Château de Neuville, Gambais provide settings that certainly evoke the traditional Franco-Scottish ‘Auld alliance’. Both of the rooms in which these performances were filmed are formal, high-ceilinged and tastefully appointed, with vistas of water and landscape visible through numerous French windows. The somewhat sparer furnishings at the château feel right as a framework for the more detached, ‘objective’ Études.
The contrast could not be starker when we find ourselves inside the cavernous space of the empty Wimbledon Theatre, where Angela Hewitt, in a stylish dress of damask rose, is illumined by a single spotlight from on high. The effect is like a darkly colour-tinted edition of Piranesi’s sombre prison engravings (Carceri), and it makes a suggestive environment for Hewitt’s performance of Chopin’s B flat minor Sonata, with its Marche funèbre and ghostly finale. Her interpretation is deeply impressive, not least for the way in which her appearance and sound are focused with intense concentration on the music, leaving the location to provide additional atmosphere.
The camerawork in all four DVD chapters is very imaginative, especially when it steals beneath the pianists’ fingers. The lighting is equally effective in the agitated F minor Étude, Op. 10 No. 9, eerily backlit with Kempf in shadow.
This worthwhile, absorbing sequence of television films, together celebrate what a magnificent techno-artistic sculpture the grand piano actually is.’
International Record Review

FORMAT: All Formats
REGIONS: All Regions
RELEASED: 03/01/2005

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