Chopin News, Reviews, and Previews:

Wagner without the words
The Star-Ledger – – Newark,NJ,USA

Emanuel Ax plays “a concerto by a composer who never wrote an opera but was deeply influenced by bel canto vocalism (Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2).”

For the Chopin concerto, the soloist is Emanuel Ax, always welcome.

With his avuncular presence belying an acute touch, Ax knows the Chopin concertos inside out, having even recorded them both on a period instrument. Orchestral writing wasn’t this composer’s thing, but Ax made the keyboard lines shine like a buffed pearl. In the melodic Larghetto, he coaxed sighs without ever being fey, the minute hesitations seeming like dramatic inflections in an unspooling aria.

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Pianist flexes mastery with daunting program
San Jose Mercury News – CA, USA

Cult-figure pianist Konstantin Lifshitz plays an ambitious program that starts with Bach. “He then tackled all 12 of Chopin’s Op. 25 Études – and when was the last time you heard a pianist play the full dozen, and from memory? before conjuring the dread of midnight with some Schoenberg and wrapping up with Brahms’ gargantuan Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel.…”

The dozen Chopin studies, each demanding mastery of a particular technical concern, began with racing arpeggios, butterfly-soft, and ended with more racing arpeggios, stamped with a murderous clout. In between came galloping tempos and visits to windswept, desolate landscapes – and, except for a few short instances of over-pedaling, all of it was super-clear, voiced and colored to tell stories.

How the pianists in the audience felt listening to Lifschitz, it’s hard to imagine. Because he was not only whizzing through Chopin’s impossible sequences of parallel thirds (Étude No. 6 in G-sharp minor), hand-splitting sixths (No. 8 in D-flat major) and octaves (No. 10 in B minor), he was journeying through emotional worlds.

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Chopin in the Blogosphere:

Microphone Exhaustion

Pianist Grace Nikae blogs about her recording session….

Recording of the Schumann G- minor sonata was completed in the past two days, and due to scheduling conflicts for all the parties involved, recording of the Chopin third sonata will take place next month. If all goes well,