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C 9635 FRYDERYK CHOPIN: 24 ÉTUDES opp. 10 & 25 [11,99 Euro]


This album is the first attempt to restore the sound of Chopin’s studies as the composer conceived them, not only by the use of a formidable Pleyel piano dated 1839, but because the performer, Gianmaria Bonino, is a musician with a deep knowledge of Chopin’s language and by extension the language of the keyboard music of the period. If we add on top an extraordinarily clear, transparent and close recorded sound (our main aim was that the listener could hear the instrument almost like the performer does when playing), surely we will be able to consider that this CD is absolutely unique.

The use of old pianos in the performance of pre-classical, classical and romantic music is not really new, either in disc or in concert but, in comparison, its penetration has not been as important as the use of the harpsichord in Baroque music. The pioneering recordings of Paul Badura-Skoda and Jörg Demus sometimes suffered from a too poor recording miking, and also from the use of some instruments whose sound and musical characteristics were not really interesting. In the late 80s, some important recordings on fortepiano arrived, with the complete outputs of Mozart (Bilson/Gardiner), Beethoven’s concerts (Tan/Norrington, Lubin/Hogwood, Levin/ Gardiner) and Badura-Skoda, Melvyn Tan or Malcolm Bilson began to generalize the interpretation of the sonatas of Beethoven, Mozart or Schubert on period instruments.

Today, to those almost legendary names many other artists have joined, some veterans and some very young, and the number of recordings made with period pianos is already huge and covers repertoires from the first pre-classical period, with Carl Philipp and Johann Christian Bach, Mozart and Haydn, to many other, lesser-known composers of the era like Dussek, and arrive to Beethoven or Schubert and even venture into Mendelssohn and Chopin himself. And in some cases, Satie and Ravel have been recorded with instruments of their time.

So, if today's use of period pianos is so widespread in the disc world (slightly less in concert, there are far fewer available period pianos and artist sometimes have to be forced to travel with their own instrument if they want to be sure they will have access to a period piano suitable for the chosen the repertoire and the sound of the venue), why this Chopin’s 24 Études CD seems so revolutionary to us? Performances of Chopin’s music with period piano are still in their childhood. In some cases performers who have recorded Chopin on old piano are actually modern pianists that have only exceptionally used an old instrument, but their playing technique is modern, and fail to extract the full expressive potential of the instrument because they cannot handle with its dynamics, its poetic capabilities with its infinite colors. In addition, period pianos are often recorded at very distant takes, and their nuanced, velvety sound, able to "sing" in a transparent manner even in the faster passages, gets diluted, greyish, all the full and beautiful colors of the best instruments are then lost.

The use of the 1839 Pleyel instrument chosen for this recording, an instrument of unmatched technical and musical quality, will be a revelation for the most demanding music lovers, and especially for Chopin’s music lovers, because we present a totally “new” Chopin. Gianmaria Bonino is a performer who not only knows well the technical characteristics of the period pianos, since he himself is a major collector of these instruments, but he also knows perfectly Chopin’s musical language, so closely linked to the possibilities of these particular instruments. The result is that what comes to us is a Chopin that is totally free of the vices of the modern interpretation, too homogeneous and concerned about mere external virtuosity. Instead, we shall hear how Gianmaria Bonino gives each note gives its precise meaning, its fair sense, its proper expression. Times are beautifully judged, fast when they have to be fast, but without falling into the precipitation or chronometric display, and the slowest pages are displayed with an unusual poetic emotion. It is, therefore, a Chopin to be enjoyed again, and to be rediscovered, to let one be carried out by the beautiful sound Bonino gets from his unique instrument, with clear and penetrating high notes, with powerful and full of color middle registers, and sensual, velvety, but still vigorous bass notes. An album to get in love with.


  • Gianmaria Bonino, original piano Pleyel dated 1839 (private collection)

Credits information

Duration  73:10  Recorded at Milano, Italy, May 2010 Engineering, editing and production Davide Ferro Executive production Gianmaria Bonino and  José Carlos Cabello Cover Henri Lehmann, “Portrait of Marie, Comtesse d'Agoult”, 1843. Musée Carnavalet, Paris  


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    Chopin Ètude op. 10 no. 5
    Chopin Ètude op. 25 no. 8
    Chopin Ètude op. 25 no. 9

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