“This latest release is nothing less than magnificent... one for the ages.”
Sonata No. 2 in B flat minor, Op. 35
5Berceuse in D flat, Op. 57
6Ballade no. 4 in F minor, Op. 52
7 Mazurka in E, Op. 6 no. 3
8 Mazurka in B flat minor, Op. 24 no. 4
9 Mazurka in D flat, Op. 30 no. 3
10Fantasie in F minor/A flat major, Op. 49
Producer: Todd Landor
Sound engineer: Tim Martyn
Recorded in the American Academy of Arts & Letters, NY in 11.2002.
Ivan Moravec's first recording of Chopin's Funeral March sonata... governed by Chopin's intentions rather than tradition's dictates... the Funeral March is direct, dignified, and unmannered, while Moravec's spooky but light-and-feathery Finale sculpts the unison octaves to sing over the bar lines.
...The Fourth Ballade follows a subjective blueprint similar to Moravec's 1966 recording, but with more expressive economy and a greater sense of line...Moravec adds three more Chopin Mazurkas to the handful already gracing his recorded repertoire, and plays up their harmonic felicities while keeping their rustic characteristics to the fore.
...The Fantasie alone is worth the price of this disc, and easily takes its place alongside the classic Cortot and Arrau versions.
See the full review at www.classicstoday.com.
Some of the best Chopin playing you will ever hear
...Moravec, while definitely an individual, stands closer to Rubinstein than to Argerich. However, one hears more intention, more intellect if you will, in Moravec than in Rubinstein. Moravec gives the impression of more study than Rubinstein's "singing bird." Nevertheless, he also manages to convey the zaniness of Chopin's structural frame as well as clearly delineate it. This comes out most forcefully in the so-called "funeral-march" sonata, a piece which has confused many great musicians, including Schumann... Moravec plays through the first movement in a way that justifies Chopin's designation... Moravec melts your heart in the trio, with a gorgeous singing line. Allusion to the trio, as in some of Beethoven's symphonic scherzos, briefly turns up in the coda.
...The fleet finale, lasting less than two minutes, is a wonder, with harmony and tonality largely in shreds. Moravec shapes it. One other thing: Moravec has a fantastic sense of harmonic movement and voice-leading. He almost never just plays chords. Whether from deliberation or instinct, he manages to string together constituent notes of successive chords to give you a line, wholly unexpected...
...Moravec takes the opening of the first [mazurka] in a way that connects with Bartók's piano dances, with shifting accents. The second is a delicate marvel, without slipping into the fey. Moravec manages to hint at an underlying steel, without becoming pushy. This elegant restraint runs over into the third mazurka. The hesitations in phrasing are distinct, but never overdone. To me, this is a model of rubato.
My favorite work (and my favorite performance) on the CD is the f-minor Fantaisie... Moravec delivers a powerful, moving account, making you feel the pianistic ornaments as an intensification, rather than a dissipation, of emotion. It's a difficult work, in the sense that Chopin shifts emotional gears on a dime. Moravec matches him and creates one gigantic, almost phantasmagoric span.
AVguide.com music recommendation
Now in his early 70s, Ivan Moravec, treasured by audiophiles and piano buffs alike for his famous Connoisseur Society LPs that wedded great sound to legendary performances, is back in the recording studio. Recorded in vibrant sonics, Moravec's new all-Chopin recital is not to be missed. He illustrates his mastery of the elusive art of rubato, displaying wondrous keyboard touch and control along with infinite degrees of shading and dynamics.
His interpretations are like no one else's but remain faithful to the music's spirit and letter, making that old warhorse, Chopin's B flat minor Sonata, sound fresh, even its 'Funeral March' movement. There, he never wallows in sentiment, giving the quiet, almost hesitant, middle section's frail beauties an emotional wallop by flanking it with a spare, measured tread in the march. The Fourth Ballade is marginally more cogent than his 1963 version; the Berceuse sparkles; a trio of Mazurkas is full of life. Best is the great F minor Fantasie, which can seem episodic but here is as tightly knit as a 'fantasy' can be. It's played with the magisterial command, dramatic power, and weight befitting perhaps the greatest of all Chopin's works.
Moravec fait partie des très grands... Sa vision de la Sonate est franchement hallucinée, et c’est bien ainsi qu’il faut concevoir cet ouvrage complètement hors norme, que Schumann admirait immensément tout en admettant qu’il n’en comprenait ni la construction, ni le langage. Il faut reconnaître que ce finale, en particulier — un délire de quelques secondes, sans début ni fin, fuyant et souvent atonal — exige de la part du pianiste une technique inimaginable.
WQXR Hot Pick: Moravec plays Chopin
Ivan Moravec has returned to the ring with a dramatic and loquacious new recording of music of Chopin on the Vox Classics label...creating brilliant and precise readings that are, nonetheless, wholly romantic in spirit... Any new release from Moravec is a big deal in piano circles; here's further proof as to why.
Unique and unforgettable
All of this music has been recorded many times over by musicians ranging from the dire to the sublime. For any Chopin recording to really stand out from the pack nowadays, it has to have some really special qualities. This is one of those recordings, and as someone who has never heard any other Moravec, it has made me eager to explore him further.
The B-flat minor Sonata of Chopin is a four-movement work cut from granite; the third movement is the Funeral March you hear at every memorial service today. The sonata can be shattering, but Moravec plays it with an inward expression I've never heard before in this piece, together with the most rounded tone to be recorded since Rubinstein. His interpretation is dramatic and majestic, not athletic, and certainly not bombastic.
The Berceuse is next, a short and deservedly popular cradle song which uses a gentle, rocking ostinato figure, practically unchanged through the entire piece, underneath what amounts to a kind of chaconne. I do not expect to ever hear it played with a greater inner peace than on this CD.
Following this little bon-bon is the great F minor Ballade, which is deeply tragic. A heavenly opening with subtle bell effects, which returns later in A major to great effect, is followed by a curiously obsessive theme which sounds like a song sung by a child in the wilderness. This theme keeps returning, in varied forms as the child grows into a full-fledged adult, until it returns one last time for the coda, in the form of an intense and furious two-part counterpoint which is among the most difficult passages in Chopin and leaves a strong psychological imprint.
Included in the CD are three Mazurkas, which are delightful. Strict Polish practice would entail prolonging the first beat for so long that it felt like a 4/4, rather than a 3/4 as notated. The usual approach today is to ignore this stylistic trait and play the Mazurkas like Waltzes, but Moravec's solution is to use a pungent rubato which fits the melody and accents its light, dance-like quality. Even if it is not a perfectly accurate mazurka style, Moravec is thoroughly charming.
The disc ends with the Fantaisie in F minor, a brilliant military-themed work which I both love and hate when I play it myself, because it is comfortable for the hand and very rewarding to listen to, but it is not easy to hold together structurally. This recording has gone a long way towards instructing me in how to do that. Without question, this Fantaisie stands head and shoulders over any other recording of this work I've heard, be it from Rubinstein, Pollini, Arrau, or Katchen, all legendary pianists in their own right.
In all, recommended in the strongest possible terms. Don't think twice.
Moravec does it again
It doesn't really seem so long ago that I first heard Ivan Moravec and sat stunned at his superb artistry. But it has been 40 years, and this great master whom I heard play in his early thirties is now 73. And what has he recorded in that span? Three sonatas and five concertos of Mozart, a little Bach and Schumann, six Beethoven sonatas (while other pianists his age are on their second or even third complete cycle), the third and fourth Beethoven concertos, the Ravel Sonatine, some Brahms, some nice Czech music, and a good deal of wonderful Debussy and Chopin. In other words, just a few years' worth of recordings for some of the more famous names on the big labels. However, within his modest output, Ivan Moravec has given some of the greatest performances ever preserved.
So we are thankful whenever this musician-virtuoso records anything, and this latest release is nothing less than magnificent. Is it possible for a performance of the warhorse B-flat minor sonata of Chopin to sound strikingly fresh and new? Apparently so. This introspective reading is one for the ages. Other pianists (Pollini comes to mind) have certainly recorded unsurpassable renditions of this piece, but Moravec's is unique and incomparable. Moravec is capable of pyrotechnics, but they simply have no place here. Even so, each note is beautifully in place and given its full due, as if it were a human soul.
It is interesting to compare this performance of the fourth Ballade with the recording Moravec made back in 1966. The 2002 version seems more leisurely, but in fact has a shorter playing time. The earlier version makes the hair on the back of your neck stand on end. The new version puts you deep into thought. Apply superlatives to the rest of the disc and you have my review.
Please, Ivan. The B minor sonata. The late Beethoven. Some more Mozart and Debussy. Anything you want to play.
I recommend it to you all !!!
Even the content selection is a piece of art in itself. The production of this compact is very well done. It sets the “magic” that goes from the Sonata in B flat minor to Berceuse, and from Berceuse to the Ballade, the lingering mazurkas, and, finally, the crown of this outstanding production and performance: The Fantasie in F minor.
This album is a piece of art in every way...! It's not only Moravec, who is way up there in inspiration and impecable performance. I'm talking about the team that put these pieces together -like jewels- without overwhelming each other, but supporting each other, articulating a mood that is consistent without falling in monotony. And, yes, it will mesmerize your senses as it did with mine. And yes, it will let you craving for more, and you will do what I did: play it again, and again. If you need to grab a defect on this album, THIS IS IT!