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Here’s a slice of history: the first complete traversal of the greatest of pianist-composers – implausibly late in season, you might think, given that these recordings were made between 1963 and 1978. But such huge projects were perhaps less readily undertaken in the days of LP, with their more limited space, and indeed artists felt less pressure to embrace today’s completist spirit.
That said, it would do a grave disservice to caricature Magaloff as some pianistic librarian, meticulously filing notes. His passion for Chopin betrays something of the scholar’s dedication – refusing to use the old Fontana editions of the Waltzes and preferring instead his own reading of the original manuscripts – but Chopin is the least amenable of all composers to the relentless rigour of typewriter accuracy. While countless others are forgotten, Cortot (and his wrong notes) are remembered. So is Magaloff, and his unsparing, clear-eyed vision, continually sharpened and refreshed by many complete Chopin recital series in the musical capitals of the world: this is intrinsically ‘live’ Chopin, ever alert to his melancholy undertow and yet never indulging the Romantic excesses of yore.
Contains extensive booklet notes by Chopin authority Jean-Charles Hoffélé, as well as a personal appreciation of the special relationship between Magaloff and the music of Chopin.