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Barenboim – The Romantic Piano (7 CD box set, APE)

Barenboim - The Romantic Piano (7 CD box set, APE)

Barenboim – The Romantic Piano (7 CD box set, APE)

Performer: Daniel Barenboim
Audio CD
SPARS Code: ADD
Number of Discs: 7 CD box set
Format: APE (tracks+cue)
Label: Deutsche Grammophon
ASIN: B0002IRY18
Size: 1.18 GB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes

Disc: 1
Frédéric Chopin
01. Nocturnes for piano, Op. 9, CT. 108-110: No. 1 in B flat minor. Larghetto
02. Nocturnes for piano, Op. 9, CT. 108-110: No. 2 in E flat major. Andante
03. Nocturnes for piano, Op. 9, CT. 108-110: No. 3 in B major. Allegretto
04. Nocturnes for piano, Op. 15, CT. 111-113: No. 1 in F major. Andante cantabile
05. Nocturnes for piano, Op. 15, CT. 111-113: No. 2 in F sharp major. Larghetto
06. Nocturnes for piano, Op. 15, CT. 111-113: No. 3 in G minor. Lento
07. Nocturnes for piano, Op. 27, CT. 114-115: No. 1 in C sharp minor. Larghetto
08. Nocturnes for piano, Op. 27, CT. 114-115: No. 2 in D flat major. Lento sostenuto
09. Nocturnes for piano, Op. 32, CT. 116-117: No. 1 in B major. Andante sostenuto
10. Nocturnes for piano, Op. 32, CT. 116-117: No. 2 in A flat major. Lento
11. Nocturnes for piano, Op. 37, CT. 118-119: No. 1 in G minor. Andante sostenuto

Disc: 2
Frédéric Chopin
01. Nocturnes for piano, Op. 37, CT. 118-119: No. 2 in G major. Andantino
02. Nocturnes for piano, Op. 48, CT. 120-121: No. 1 in C minor. Lento
03. Nocturnes for piano, Op. 48, CT. 120-121: No. 2 in F sharp minor. Andantino
04. Nocturnes for piano, Op. 55, CT. 122-123: No. 1 in F minor. Andante
05. Nocturnes for piano, Op. 55, CT. 122-123: No. 2 in E flat major. Lento sostenuto
06. Nocturnes for piano, Op. 62, CT. 124-125: No. 1 in B major. Andante
07. Nocturnes for piano, Op. 62, CT. 124-125: No. 2 in E major. Lento
08. Nocturne for piano No. 19 in E minor, Op. 72/1, CT. 126
09. Nocturne for piano No. 20 in C sharp minor, KK IVa/16, CT. 127 (B. 49)
10. Nocturne for piano in C minor, KK IVb/8, CT. 128 (B. 108)

Disc: 3
Felix Mendelssohn
01. Songs without Words for piano, Book 1, Op. 19b: No. 1 in E major. Andante con moto
02. Songs without Words for piano, Book 1, Op. 19b: No. 2 in A minor. Andante espressivo
03. Songs without Words for piano, Book 1, Op. 19b: No. 3 in A major ‘Hunting Song’. Molto Allegro e vivace
04. Songs without Words for piano, Book 1, Op. 19b: No. 4 in A major. Moderato
05. Songs without Words for piano, Book 1, Op. 19b: No. 5 in F sharp minor. Piano agitato
06. Songs without Words for piano, Book 1, Op. 19b: No. 6 in G minor ‘Venetian Gondola Song’. Andante sostenuto
07. Songs without Words for piano, Book 2, Op. 30: No. 1 in E flat major. Andante espressivo
08. Songs without Words for piano, Book 2, Op. 30: No. 2 in B flat minor. Allegro di molto
09. Songs without Words for piano, Book 2, Op. 30: No. 3 in E major. Adagio non troppo
10. Songs without Words for piano, Book 2, Op. 30: No. 4 in B minor. Agitato e con fuoco
11. Songs without Words for piano, Book 2, Op. 30: No. 5 in D major. Andante grazioso
12. Songs without Words for piano, Book 2, Op. 30: No. 6 in F sharp minor ‘Venetian Gondola Song’. Allegretto tranquillo
13. Songs without Words for piano, Book 3, Op. 38: No. 1 in E flat major. Con moto
14. Songs without Words for piano, Book 3, Op. 38: No. 2 in C minor. Allegro non troppo
15. Songs without Words for piano, Book 3, Op. 38: No. 3 in E major. Presto e molto vivace
16. Songs without Words for piano, Book 3, Op. 38: No. 4 in A major. Andante
17. Songs without Words for piano, Book 3, Op. 38: No. 5 in A minor. Agitato
18. Songs without Words for piano, Book 3, Op. 38: No. 6 in A flat major ‘Duetto’. Andante con moto
19. Songs without Words for piano, Book 4, Op. 53: No. 1 in A flat major. Andante con moto
20. Songs without Words for piano, Book 4, Op. 53: No. 2 in E flat major. Allegro non troppo
21. Songs without Words for piano, Book 4, Op. 53: No. 3 in G minor. Presto agitato
22. Songs without Words for piano, Book 4, Op. 53: No. 4 in F major. Adagio
23. Songs without Words for piano, Book 4, Op. 53: No. 5 in A minor ‘Folksong’. Allegro con fuoco
24. Songs without Words for piano, Book 4, Op. 53: No. 6 in A major. Molto Allegro, vivace

Disc: 4
Felix Mendelssohn
01. Songs without Words for piano, Book 5, Op. 62: No. 1 in G major. Andante espressivo
02. Songs without Words for piano, Book 5, Op. 62: No. 2 in B flat major. Allegro con fuoco
03. Songs without Words for piano, Book 5, Op. 62: No. 3 in E minor ‘Funeral March’. Andante maestoso
04. Songs without Words for piano, Book 5, Op. 62: No. 4 in G major. Allegro con anima
05. Songs without Words for piano, Book 5, Op. 62: No. 5 in A minor ‘Venetian Gondola Song’. Andante con moto
06. Songs without Words for piano, Book 5, Op. 62: No. 6 in A major ‘Spring Song’. Allegretto grazioso
07. Songs without Words for piano, Book 6, Op. 67: No. 1 in E flat major. Andante
08. Songs without Words for piano, Book 6, Op. 67: No. 2 in F sharp minor. Allegro leggiero
09. Songs without Words for piano, Book 6, Op. 67: No. 3 in B flat major. Andante tranquillo
10. Songs without Words for piano, Book 6, Op. 67: No. 4 in C major ‘Spinning Song’. Presto
11. Songs without Words for piano, Book 6, Op. 67: No. 5 in B minor. Moderato
12. Songs without Words for piano, Book 6, Op. 67: No. 6 in E major ‘Cradle Song’. Allegretto non troppo
13. Songs without Words for piano, Book 7, Op. 85: No. 1 in F major. Andante espressivo
14. Songs without Words for piano, Book 7, Op. 85: No. 2 in A minor. Allegro agitato
15. Songs without Words for piano, Book 7, Op. 85: No. 3 in E flat major. Presto
16. Songs without Words for piano, Book 7, Op. 85: No. 4 in D major. Andante sostenuto
17. Songs without Words for piano, Book 7, Op. 85: No. 5 in A major. Allegretto
18. Songs without Words for piano, Book 7, Op. 85: No. 6 in B flat major. Allegretto con moto
19. Songs without Words for piano, Book 8, Op. 102: No. 1 in E minor. Andante, un poco agitato
20. Songs without Words for piano, Book 8, Op. 102: No. 2 in D major. Adagio
21. Songs without Words for piano, Book 8, Op. 102: No. 3 in C major. Presto
22. Songs without Words for piano, Book 8, Op. 102: No. 4 in G minor. Un poco agitato, ma andante
23. Songs without Words for piano, Book 8, Op. 102: No. 5 in A major. Allegro vivace
24. Songs without Words for piano, Book 8, Op. 102: No. 6 in C major. Andante
25. Kinderstücke for piano (‘Christmas Pieces’), Op. 72: 6. Vivace
26. Gondollied, for piano in A major (‘Barcarole’)
27. Albumblatt for piano in E minor, Op. 117

Disc: 5
Franz Liszt
01. Piano Sonata in B minor, S. 178 (LW A179): Lento assai – Allegro energico –
02. Piano Sonata in B minor, S. 178 (LW A179): Grandioso – Recitativo
03. Piano Sonata in B minor, S. 178 (LW A179): Andante sostenuto
04. Piano Sonata in B minor, S. 178 (LW A179): Allegro energico

Disc: 6
Franz Liszt
01. Années de pèlerinage, 1st Year (‘Suisse’), suite for piano, S. 160 (LW A159): 6. Vallée d’Obermann
02. Années de pèlerinage, 1st Year (‘Suisse’), suite for piano, S. 160 (LW A159): 7. Epilogue
03. Années de pèlerinage, 1st Year (‘Suisse’), suite for piano, S. 160 (LW A159): 8. Le mal du pays
04. Années de pèlerinage, 1st Year (‘Suisse’), suite for piano, S. 160 (LW A159): 9. Les cloches de Genève
05. Aus Lohengrin (2, I & II), transcription for piano (after Wagner), S. 446 (LW A185)

Disc: 7
Franz Liszt
01. Consolations, for piano, S. 172 (LW A111a/2): 1. Andante con moto
02. Consolations, for piano, S. 172 (LW A111a/2): 3. Lento placido
03. Consolations, for piano, S. 172 (LW A111a/2): 4. Quasi adagio (Melody: Maria Paulovna)
04. Consolations, for piano, S. 172 (LW A111a/2): 5. Andantino
05. Consolations, for piano, S. 172 (LW A111a/2): 6. Allegretto sempre cantabile
06. Liebestraum, notturnos for piano (after songs LW N18), S. 541, LW A103: Hohe Liebe (after a poem by Ludwig Uhland)
07. Liebestraum, notturnos for piano (after songs LW N18), S. 541, LW A103: Seliger Tod (after a poem by Ludwig Uhland)
08. Liebestraum, notturnos for piano (after songs LW N18), S. 541, LW A103: O lieb, so lang du lieben kannst (after a poem by Ferdina
09. Rigoletto: paraphrase de concert (after Verdi), for piano, S. 434 (LW A187)

Beyond its handsome, streamlined packaging and affordable price, the true value of this seven-disc set — the first volume in Deutsche Grammophon’s survey of the Romantic piano repertoire — lies in Daniel Barenboim’s eloquent performances and in the depth of his selections. This presentation of key piano works by Chopin, Mendelssohn, and Liszt is intelligently laid out and quite generous; Barenboim’s performances of complete cycles and whole portions of large works give the set a broad context and more substance than a smattering of random excerpts would provide. On the whole, Barenboim plays with exceptional control and clarity in Chopin’s Nocturnes and Mendelssohn’s Lieder ohne Worte, and only falls short in Liszt’s hyper-virtuosic pieces, which call for more passion, flamboyance, and bombast than he can muster. Like some other sets in DG’s Collectors Edition series, this one consists of releases from the 1970s and 1980s, and the predominance of ADD over DDD recordings is slightly disconcerting. Only Chopin’s Nocturnes and Liszt’s transcriptions of Wagner are all-digital; the rest were remastered from analog. Perhaps most disappointing of all, the 1973 Mendelssohn recordings have a subdued, veiled quality, possibly due to the reduction of tape hiss.

Incomparable Artistry

I bought this box set mainly for the disc 5 & 6 which contains Liszt/Wagner Transciptions, Annees de pelerinage and Liszt Bm Sonata that were not reissed before (all the other recordings are still available on DG Double or Galleria budget reissue CD).

It is obvious, from all these recordings on 7 discs, that Barenboim has special affinity with Romantic repertoire. Particularly with Liszt, he has the incomparable ability to capture the ethereal beauty and inherent poetry of the music through his wide range of tonal colouring and mesmerising legato playing, not to mention his phenomenal technical prowess.

In Wagner transcriptions, you can sense Barenboim as a conductor creating orchestral sound and texture. Very broadly paced Bm Sonata (30’20”) is presented in Wagnerian grandeur and it is almost like an opera transcription – very unusual and utterly captivating interpretation, if not so successful as Pogorelich (who has similar epic approach) in sustaining the coherency of the whole and keeping the tension level high.

Peerless pianism

This set is the single most wonderful survey of romantic piano music in existence. But you have to understand what the word “romantic” means – it is by no means self-evident, and downright wrong in the way we tend mostly to use it. Romanticism refers primarily to poetry – e.g. Wordsworth, Coleridge, Goethe, Novalis – and to music written in a “poetic” spirit. It refers also to a new sense of the beauty of nature that came in the wake of the first signs of the industrial revolution. It means an inward turn, a search for truth not in the technological, but the spiritual world. Above all, its concerns were with love, the rediscovery of chivalry. This is mirrored in the mostly small works of the 30-odd years that began the 19th century. Wagner is already decidedly post-Romantic in this sense. The epic scale of medievalism that took hold then denoted a turn to something quite different.
Mendelssohn’s Songs without Words are genuine expressions of this romanticism. We must not insist on seeking great depths in everything those composers wrote. They are salon pieces, like so many of the poems of that age. (Indeed Chopin escaped being a salon composer only on the strength of towering genius.) The way Barenboim plays these formerly over-popular pieces is with great affection, an impeccable stylishness, and a truly magical touch. This extends indeed to all the works of this album, and I will single out next the Liszt pieces (the Paraphrases, Notturne, Consolations) as rarely accorded such care. Barenboim’s reticence and eschewal of bombast make all these miniatures appeared in jewelled fineness.
There is hardly a weak moment in this whole set: remarkable!
On the other hand, there are highlights of great merit in those works where Barenboim would expect to meet with stiff competition. The Chopin Nocturnes and the Liszt Sonata and Années de Pelerinage (which include the Dante Sonata).
These are in my estimate among the greatest performance committed to recorded sound. The Chopin Nocturnes will undoubtedly strike some listeners as “cool”, yet when you recall the effect Rubinstein had on performances of these pieces, your judgement might be mitigated. Exaggeration and overblown sentiment is precisely what these works are vulnerable to; and too many pianists indulge themselves in this way. Rubinstein showed that reticence is the better part of valour here, and Barenboim follows this hint with meticulous pianism and perfect equipoise. The three Liszt Sonetti have never been played as beautifully and passionately by any other pianist – this is miles ahead of such rivals as Berman or Brendel. The Dante Sonata, so easily vulgarised, is here treated like a great work of art. Finally, the great Sonata itself finds with Barenboim an interpreter who is serious about his art and gives us a reading full of grandeur and pianistic volcanism, without ever sliding into bombast or vainglory. I know of only two other recordings of the Sonata that can hold a candle to this one: Gilels on RCA (quite dated sound of course) and more recently Demidenko on Hyperion Nikolai Demidenko Plays Liszt. These are the men among Liszt players, compared to the all-too-frequent exhibitionists of mere technique, empty bravura.
If this is music of interest to you, don’t look anywhere else. This is the richest bouquet of Romanticism you are ever likely to encounter, and rarely played so masterly, so lovingly, so impeccably.
The tone of the piano of a quality to match.

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