‘Chopin's two piano concertos have long been admired more as pianistic vehicles than as integrated works for piano and orchestra. But in his revelatory new recording, Krystian Zimerman suggests otherwise: The opening orchestral tuttis have so much more light, shade, orchestral color, and detail, you wonder if they've been rewritten. Every gesture, every instrumental solo is so specifically characterized that by the time the piano makes a dramatic entrance, the pieces have become operas without words. One may wonder if Chopin intended that. In fact, he knew bel canto opera in his native Poland, but the more positive proof is that the music has so much more to say when treated this way. Some will find the performances disturbing: The interpretations are so much more about content than form, and there's so much tempo and rhythmic flexibility, that the music sometimes seems unmoored and adrift. But upon repeated listening, the sense of fantasy is so beguiling that you wonder if you could ever go back to more conventional performances.' David Patrick Stearns
'The eclectic influences of Steffani's intriguing life... ebb and flow through this sequence: Showy bravura offsets melancholy introspection; quick-fire coloratura gives way to lyricism. Martial percussion, gleaming brass and rich harmonies colour the Italian idiom, while French dance rhythms, by turns robust and graceful, pervade.
Bartoli's plummy mezzo soars, smoulders and seduces, milking the music's vocal and expressive scope to dramatic effect. It's hard to resist her sparkling personality and infectious for this repertoire, much of which she has unearthed herself. The Choir of Swiss Radio & Television and the animated playing of I Barocchisti enhance the sheer theatre and scale of Steffani's talent.' BBC Music Magazine