CHOPIN: Selected Piano Works – Roberto Prosseda, piano – Aix Records

by | Feb 1, 2006 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

CHOPIN: Selected Piano Works – Roberto Prosseda, piano. Nocturnes Op. 32 No. 1, Op. 27 No. 2, Op. 9 Nos. 1 & 2, Op. 15 No. 1; Valse Op. 64 Nos. 2 & 3; Scherzo Op. 20, Impromptu Op. 36, Etude Op. 10 No. 4, Mazurka Op. 59 No. 1, Ballade Op. 52 in F Minor – Aix Records multichannel DVD-A, PCM stereo 96K mix, alternate 5.1-channel mixes, DTS 5.1, bonus video; second standard CD disc -AIX 81006 ****:

Due to its more sensible solution to providing both a DVD and a CD as separate discs rather than a glued-together DualDisc, this Aix release should probably have been listed in our special DualDisc section. But all of the other feature and format-packed Aix discs have been reviewed in this section, so I’ll continue that. This seems to be the only such offering from Aix – a similar classical disc they issued about the same time was only a DVD without the bonus CD. A standard offering from this label (also picked up by another label recently) has been to offer two different acoustics in the multichannel mixes – one putting the listener in the middle of the audience and the other taking one right up on stage close to the performers.  The usual provision is for the “audience” mix to be Dolby Digital 5.1 and the “stage” mix to be DTS 5.1. Personally I prefer to be up close and prefer the usually better fidelity of the DTS option, but one is welcome to select the more distant DD option if you wish.

The DVD is described on the jewelbox as DVD-A/V, which I would think might cause befuddlement to some users looking for the video option.  Many Aix discs do have a video option and now feature very high quality coverage of the recording sessions, but this one does not. All that will be seen on the screen is a design of Chopin’s face, the titles of the selections and the various options to select on the disc.

The liner notes are by pianist Prosseda, and address the nearly inexhaustible ways ot interpreting Chopin due to the composer’s rich and poetic sensibilities in his music.  He tells us just enough about each piece to guide us thru the 13 selections, and not bog us down with musicological analysis. The rich and very present piano sound heard in the DVD-A, PCM 96K and DTS options makes it easy to lose oneself in these Romantic, super-expressive piano works. The only thing missed in the PCM stereo version is an impression of the piano being in an actual hall or room, which the multichannel options convey handily.  Having struggled thru the four Chopin Ballades in college I was primed for the final track of the F Minor Ballade.  Prosseda really dives into this very emotional work, with its tremendous variances  of dynamics – all handled with no strain by either the pianist or Aix’s recording.  Of course a goodly part of the aural excitement is missing from the separate 44.1 CD, but it’s still better than most commercial CDs of piano music, and can be played in your car or portable player without problem – to my mind the very best solution to the DVD/CD dichotomy.

– John Sunier

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