CHOPIN Étude Piano Sonata Pires 4777483

The wonderful Portuguese pianist Maria Joao Pires has just released a captivating two-CD set of late works by Chopin (Deutsche Grammophon), providing another welcome example of her austere, intense keyboard sorcery . . . If ever there was a player born to get to the heart of Mozart¿s deceptively simple constructions, it¿s Pires.

Pires¿s own approach is devoid of the flashy ornament, the excited rampage. Listen how subtly she handles the Sonata, highlighting the interior dramas, flecking its turbulent motions with heart-catching tiny rubatos. This is playing of total clarity and refinement. The performance of the Op 61 Polonaise-Fantasie is another wonder: poetic, inward-looking, cast in a spirit of reverie . . . The transience of life and beauty; how keenly we feel this as the first chord of the B major Op 62 Nocturne subsides into its echo. But that¿s just one of many magical moments in this CD release -- for once presented by DG with the dignity that the music-making deserves.

Maria João Pires, that most elusive and magical of pianists, has been coaxed back into the recording studios for this recital of late Chopin. It is essential listening. You only have to hear the opening notes of the Third Sonata to be reminded of the limpidness of her touch and the subtlety with which she inflects her rhythm and phrasing. But none of this is self-conscious. It is as if she were a natural conduit through which the music passes directly from Chopin to the attentive ear. She seems to be the very embodiment of Chopin¿s style, its grace, melancholy, nobility and finesse. For the Cello Sonata, she is joined by the young Russian cellist Pavel Gomziakov in a performance of transcendent beauty. It sings with passion, nostalgia, eloquence and intimacy.

Much of the playing is very fine -- at her best she is one of the most compelling pianists around today . . . Best of all is the B minor Sonata with which she begins her stroll. It's a bold, big-boned performance that rather dismisses the scherzo, but presents the slow movement in epic terms. The other large-scale works -- a carefully paced Polonaise-Fantasie, and a finely communicative account with Pavel Gomziakov of the cello work -- are successful, too . . . the exceptional quality of this music is never devalued.

The great Portuguese pianist Maria Joao Pires doesn't record often, but when she does you have to pay attention . . . Pires's interpretations are the musical equivalent of a fine black-and-white photograph, showing every nuance and displaying remarkable balance and composition . . . Pires is about elegance and poise, but the passionate side of Chopin is carefully veiled behind a silk screen.

As great as Pires has been in the past, she's even better now: Each phrase has astonishing authority, each note rings out with a combination of force and radiance and, in a throwback to 19th-century pianist, chords are "broken" (each note sounded individually) with an eloquence beyond that of Vladimir Horowitz.

. . . music-making of the utmost caliber and integrity . . . wonderful Chopin-playing where you feel you're listening to the music rather than to the pianist . . . clarity and resilience of line, luminous singing tone, a near ideal balance between aristocratic poise and emotional absorption, and a rare poetic eloquence. In the Third Sonata her notably personal rubarto adds to, rather than detracts from, the music's sense of flow . . . thanks to her gorgeously sustained line and tonal control it remains utterly compelling . . . Pires's account is deeply satisfying. The Op. 62 Nocturnes are beautifully done, as are the Op. 59 Mazurkas . . . [Cello Sonata]: This is a broad and reflective reading, with lovely tone from both cello and piano, helped by DG's terrific sound, and a sense of dialogue and shared understanding that is very rewarding . . . this set will provide lasting nourishment and pleasure.

. . . there are moments of rapturous beauty in every piece. Take the Polonaise-fantaisie: the fantasy element is very much to the fore, and if you trust her intuition, there are many marvels to be revealed . . . A tantalising set, then. There is some extraordinary musicianship to be found here . . .

She sounds, unlike many of the Chopin players I admire, particularly relaxed . . . These performances are beautifully expressive; there's nothing casual about them. One might be surprised at the gentleness of the Polonaise-Fantaisie, or the wistful playfulness of the second waltz of op. 64, but those qualities seem to emerge from the music itself . . . Pires offers an equally valid interpretation that is not without its tension. The Cello Sonata with the vibrant young cellist Pavel Gomziakov is a special treat . . . this performance has become an instant favorite . . . This collection is, as expected from this pianist, a delight.

Sie braucht kein großes Tasten-Show-Spektakel, sondern zählt zu den introvertierteren Vertreterinnen ihrer Zunft -- ganz im Dienste der Musik also . . . [Nocturnes]: Gespielt von Maria Joao Pires ist es fast so, als würde sie einem ganz leise und beruhigend ins Ohr sprechen, so berührend-direkt ist ihr Spiel, so erzählend der Duktus und so schwelgerisch der Klang. Leidenschaft, Dramatik und schüchterne Erhabenheit schwingen mit . . . [Mazurkas]: auch hier besticht Pires durch ihre Interpretation . . . Bei der Entstehung des Chopin Albums scheint es so, als sei eine tiefe Hingabe und ein persönliches Anliegen im Spiel gewesen.

Auch nach der großen Chopin-Feier wird sich die Aufnahme von all den glitzernden Fingerakrobat-Produkten abheben -- als beklemmend wahrhaftig, als abgeklärter Blick hinter die Fassade des Mondänen, des Effektvollen, des Pathetischen . . . Pires macht diese Chronologie dann auch sehr überzeugend als Prozess der essentiellen Verdichtung, der Einkehr, ja gar der Überwindung der eigenen Virtuosität kenntlich. So zeigen sich ausgerechnet die kürzeren Charakter- und Tanzstücke . . . als auratische Höhepunkte dieser Seelenreise, dieser späten Selbstfindung eines innerlich zum Zerbersten gespannten Genies . . . Bei der Cello-Sonate erweist sich . . . Gomziakov als seelenverwandter Lyriker . . .

. . . sie prescht nicht mit vorschneller Virtuosität durch die Musik [dritte Klaviersonate], sondern lotet deren auffallend komplexe Kontrapunktik bis in feinste Binnen-Verästelungen aus. Man darf ihren außerordentlichen Einfallsreichtum an gestalterischer Fantasie bewundern sowie ihre diesem Werk durchaus angemessenen Tendenz zu traumverlorener Kantabilität.

Avec les années, sa sonorité s'est singulièrement élargie, comme si la pianiste brésilienne avait laissé tomber une barrière psychologique qui l'empêchait d'aller tout à fait au bout de ses convictions, prisonnière de l'image de "pure mozartienne" qu'on avait fabriquée autour d'elle. Dans quelques-uns des derniers opus de Chopin, son jeu est simplement vivant, capricieux au sens fort du terme, comme improvisé, débarrassé de toute afféterie comme de toute grandiloquence -- même dans le finale de la Sonate no. 3 . . . [c'est] toujours parlant, toujours convaincant . . . parmi les nombreuses versions récentes, celle-ci n'est pas loin d'être la plus pertinente.

. . . c'est un retour dans un paysage longuement visité, traversé sans fausses notes, dans une compréhension intime et naturelle. Effusion, introspection, pudeur . . . la sensibilité fraternelle de la pianiste en font l'une des plus discrètes mais éloquentes interprètes de Chopin dont elle nous fait partager la passion, de l'intérieur . . . [Elle] s'accorde un nouveau chant de l'âme d'une indiscutable profondeur. La vérité du jeu montre aujourd'hui comment son apprentissage à Munich, auprès de Karl Engel l'a mise sur le droit chemin: celui de la discipline et de l'éveil. Accomplissement progressif où la conscience musicale se double d'une écoute quasi instinctive du corps . . . le naturel palpitant, la facilité sans superficialité, l'engagement instinctif et organique du jeu confirment la très grande Chopinienne . . .