After DG issued in 1999 the dual-CD of Chopin's two piano concerti with Zimerman conducting from the keyboard, this earlier release featuring the LA Philharmonic Orchestra with Giulini conducting has largely been forgotten, and have sadly gone out of print.
Too bad, since of the two recordings by Krystian Zimerman of the Chopin concerti for piano, this earlier one in 1986 is the one of my personal preference.
Firstly, I think for a pianist to be able to record both of Chopin's piano concerti with 'equal' distinction is some thing of a real marvel. Not many top pianists managed to succeed in this respect. Either they are more adept in the No. 1 (in fact the No. 2), or they offer a better No. 2 (in fact No. 1). Many 'popular' young pianists have tried their hands on a dual-concerti set in recent years: Lang Lang, Sa Chen, Rafal Blechacz, and the not too young Dang Thai Son on period instruments.
While I marvel at Mr. Dang's No. 2 and Mr. Blechacz's No. 1, both these pianists do not have a very 'even-handed' treatment of the two pieces in the same way as Krystian Zimerman in this 1986 recording.
Zimerman was younger (less than 30) when he recorded this pair. This, to me at least, is a great asset over his later 1999 second recording. I in fact owned the latter set much earlier, but that set simply failed to ignite me with each repeated listening time after time in the same way this earlier set does.
I in fact started listening to this Giulini/Zimerman version early this year. And it immediately became clear to me why Zimerman, for many past decades, has been regarded as a 'top-Chopin' performer. Here, he had none of the heavy-handed approaches to Chopin as he has now. Instead, here is much more youthful passion and poetic verve that the second recording lacked. The No. 1 Concerto in particular is a sheer composite breath of vitality and wistfulness, well-balanced in elegance and passion, and even with a deep sense of infinity. In every sense, this performance is on par with Rafal Blechacz's immaculate interpretation of this piece in 2005 at the International Chopin Competition.
As for the No. 2 Concerto, my personal favorite has always been Dang Thai Son's whether period or otherwise. Zimerman's reading here with Giulini comes very very close to Dang's, and even tops other great pianists' readings, Rubinstein, Argerich, Ohlsson included. The No. 2 concerto is more 'masculine' in certain sense than the No. 1, but the second movement calls for a great change of mood from the first, and the emotional challenges in this piece may even be greater than No. 1. Here, as in the No.1, Zimerman brings forth a reading with paramount poetry that knocks the listeners right off.
In both pieces, the pianism displayed is awesome. If you like Zimerman's 1999 set, this one should under no circumstances be missed, too!
Chopin: Piano Concertos 1 & 2 インポート