Two things immediately strike the critical listener and viewer. One is the superb recorded sound, which is full, immediate and dynamic; furthermore, the ambience of the acoustic profile is commensurate with the room that one sees. The second aspect is the total lack of distraction afforded by the filming, which is to say that there is no rapid-fire editing or any tricksy angle shots. It's a joy to watch. Therefore one can concentrate on Zimerman's fingers, face and his communion with the piano and the music. The pictures certainly offer another dimension, but the performances totally satisfy as an aural and sensorial experience . . . Zimerman is . . . direct and invigorating; indeed his freshness of approach stimulates interest in pieces that may have become slightly dulled over the years. Zimerman's success here is that although one appreciates the technical magnificence that he has devoted to each Impromptu he has done so without diminishing the music's soul; indeed, I found them especially moving and stimulating. This is a magnificent release.
. . . Humphrey Burton's beautiful filming from 1987 of the 30-year-old Krystian Zimerman has a wonderfully timeless quality. The playing is a marvel of finely balanced sensitivity, fire and colour.
. . . this DVD contains some of the most magnificent piano-playing that I have ever heard. Zimerman's pianistic subtlety matches not-for-note his deep involvement with the music, which seems to grow out of him, creating itself as he plays. I completely concur with the British critic Jeremy Siepmann, who writes in his booklet note: "The range of color, the extent of tonal control, the layering of contrasting levels and characters of sound on display here are as phenomenal as the sheer unalloyed beauty of tone Zimerman produces, from the softest to the loudest . . . The recital is a gold mine of great piano playing." The filming, which took lace in 1987in the Rosenhügel Studio in Vienna, holds up very well, and the audio quality is superb . . . These are performances that burn with white heat, even in the quietest moments of the Nocturne and the Impromptus. In every piece there is a musical vision, an inner intensity that begins before the first note sounds and continues without interruption -- through rests and fermatas -- to the release of the final note. Zimerman's Chopin has immense vitality, with no hint of the salon or of mere prettiness. Every physical gesture, grand or minimal, has its musical raison-d'être, and to watch this kind of playing whether close up or in profile, provides a unique master class. One sees him simultaneous and deft use of the sostenuto and sustaining pedals on the opening octave of the Barcarolle, which permits Chopin's indicated degree of decrescendo over a pedal-point on a modern piano; one sees how he consistently leans his entire upper body backward from the pelvis in the quietest passages, to take all unnecessary weight off the keys; one listens with him to the totally fading sound of the opening octaves of Schubert's First Impromptu; one sees the razor-like precision of close fingerwork in the codas of all four Ballades; and one sees and hears how the complete release of arm weight on sustained notes and octaves affects their sound . . . Zimerman's playing is absolutely in a class by itself. This DVD should be required viewing for all advanced piano students, and it should sustain real pianophiles through repeated viewings for years to come.
Les plus belles Ballades de Chopin au monde: c'est ce que nous offrit Krystian Zimerman en 1988 avec un CD qui fit date, et qui plane encore aujourd'hui sur une discographie pourtant fort chargée. Parallèlement furent tournées ces images bien léchées, dans le cadre un peu glacé de quelque palais viennois, qui n'ont rien à envier au disque en studio, et dévoilent les mystères d'un art pianistique réellement exceptionnel. Vingt ans après, on reste sidéré par cet équilibre parfait entre calme et puissance, tendresse et héroisme, intelligence et sensibilité, finesse et maîtrise, qui fait de ces interprétations des musts absolus . . . le premier cahier des Impromptus de Schubert prolonge cette sensation d'accomplissement tant musical qu'instrumental . . . rien que pour ce Chopin royal et pur, en un mot parfait, ces images sont à connaître absolument.