Chopin Piano Sonatas - Audiophile Audition

Wide dynamic range and rich sonics distinguish Linn's reproduction of the Bluthner piano

Artur Pizarro is a Portuguese pianist who a couple years ago performed the entire cycle of Beethoven Piano Sonatas in London, which was broadcast by the BBC. This is his second Chopin SACD for Linn, and his previous two Beethoven sonata Linn SACDs were praised in many quarters.

Pizarro's Linn recordings all reveal a rich and powerful piano sound with a tremendous dynamic range and an extreme treble end that strikes my ears as much more musical than the steely-hard timbre of the high notes often heard on recordings. Part of the explanation could be that Pizarro doesn't play the typical Steinway; these recordings feature the Bluthner piano, made in the former East Germany for a century and a half. The listener is acoustically seated very close to the piano, making the wide dynamic range enough to shake you up occasionally.

The Second Sonata is the one with the famous funeral march. The Third is the biggest of all Chopin's piano works, features extensive polyphonic development, and has a strong momentum propelling it right to the end of the thrilling Presto final movement. The rarely-heard opening Variations Brillantes are based on an aria from an opera by Halevy, treated in a virtuoso style, and were the last set of variations written by the composer.

Audiophile Audition
06 March 2006