Chopin: Waltzes (CD review)

Eugene Mursky, piano. Profil PHO4066.

Eugene Mursky, born in Uzbekistan in 1975, has won a number of international piano competitions and awards, and certainly he demonstrates the dexterity and flamboyance to one day become a world-class and world-famous pianist. His playing of the Chopin waltzes is dazzling in its technique and should win over more than a few new converts to his cause.

Polish composer and pianist Frederick Chopin (1810-1849) wrote about eighteen waltzes that scholars are sure of, with another dozen or so that some people question. The remarkable thing about them is not that they are in traditional ¾ waltz time but that Chopin intended them for concert play rather than dancing, and most of them are fairly difficult to play. Nevertheless, Mursky plays them with ease, with a sense of refinement and comfort, the interpretations almost completely free of pretense or affectation. In other words, he would appear to put the music ahead of himself.

However, I would warn that comparisons can be hard on a fellow. My comparison in this case was Arthur Rubinstein, whose Chopin waltz recordings on RCA have always been my personal favorites. Side by side, I'm afraid Mursky, as good as he is, comes off as technically skilled rather than emotionally inspired. Rubinstein is both eloquent and articulate. His Chopin possesses brilliance and heart in equal measure. In contrast, Mursky can sometimes seem rushed, more content to display his blazing finger work than to put his soul into the music.

Profil's recording is slightly closer than RCA's, too, providing a bit more precision but not as much bloom. Mursky seems to be performing in a studio, while Rubinstein could be on a concert stage. Both are quite good, just different. I might also add that at this time RCA offers the Rubinstein collection at mid price, whilst Profil is at full price.

JJP

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John J. Puccio

John J. Puccio

About the Author

Understand, I'm just an everyday guy reacting to something I love. And I've been doing it for a very long time, my appreciation for classical music starting with the musical excerpts on The Big John and Sparkie radio show in the early Fifties and the purchase of my first recording, The 101 Strings Play the Classics, around 1956. In the late Sixties I began teaching high school English and Film Studies as well as becoming interested in hi-fi, my audio ambitions graduating me from a pair of AR-3 speakers to the Fulton J's recommended by The Stereophile's J. Gordon Holt. In the early Seventies, I began writing for a number of audio magazines, including Audio Excellence, Audio Forum, The Boston Audio Society Speaker, The American Record Guide, and from 1976 until 2008, The $ensible Sound, for which I served as Classical Music Editor.

Today, I'm retired from teaching and use a pair of bi-amped VMPS RM40s loudspeakers for my listening. In addition to writing the Classical Candor blog, I served as the Movie Review Editor for the Web site Movie Metropolis (formerly DVDTown) from 1997-2013. Music and movies. Life couldn't be better.

Mission Statement

It is the goal of Classical Candor to promote the enjoyment of classical music. Other forms of music come and go--minuets, waltzes, ragtime, blues, jazz, bebop, country-western, rock-'n'-roll, heavy metal, rap, and the rest--but classical music has been around for hundreds of years and will continue to be around for hundreds more. It's no accident that every major city in the world has one or more symphony orchestras.

When I was young, I heard it said that only intellectuals could appreciate classical music, that it required dedicated concentration to appreciate. Nonsense. I'm no intellectual, and I've always loved classical music. Anyone who's ever seen and enjoyed Disney's Fantasia or a Looney Tunes cartoon playing Rossini's William Tell Overture or Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 can attest to the power and joy of classical music, and that's just about everybody.

So, if Classical Candor can expand one's awareness of classical music and bring more joy to one's life, more power to it. It's done its job.

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa