Garrick Ohlsson Performs Chopin Piano Concertos 1 & 2, Blu-ray (2012)
Program: CHOPIN: Piano Concertos 1 & 2, Mazurka in C sharp minor Op. 50 No. 3. MONIUSZKO: Bajka (“The Fairy Tale”) rec. at Warsaw Philharmonic, 29 August 2009
Studio: Ideale Audience International 3078944 [Distr. by Naxos]
Performers: Garrick Ohlsson, p./ Warsaw Philharmonic /Antoni Wit
Video: 1080i HD for 16:9 color
Audio: PCM Stereo 2.0; DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1.
Subtitles for documentary: English, German, French, Polish, Japanese
No region code
Extras: The Art of Chopin – A film by Gérald Caillat
Length: 97 mins (concert) + 53 mins
If the performances were as excellent as the documentary, this disc would be something. Unfortunately, despite a great pedigree–the performers are Garrick Ohlsson, who in 1970 became the first American to win gold in the Warsaw Chopin Competition, and a top Polish orchestra and conductor–the playing never comes to life, the speeds seem unconscionably slow, and the orchestral playing is thick and uninspired.
In other words, the value of this release weighs entirely on the shoulders of Gérald Caillat’s probing, absorbing film, The Art of Chopin, with its focus on the composer’s most creative periods and exclusively on his piano music.
In an engaging narrative illuminated by an informative series of interviews with a galaxy of famous Chopin pianists including Ohlsson himself (playing at a very high level), Bella Davidovich (who in a wonderful historical clip turns in the most incandescent playing of all), Evgeny Kissin, Piotr Anderszewski and Yuja Wang, Caillat brings the music and times of Chopin to life.
If any recording is essential to the genre, this is it.