Author Topic: Ashkenazy's First Recording of the Chopin Etudes  (Read 5674 times)

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George

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Ashkenazy's First Recording of the Chopin Etudes
« on: August 15, 2007, 03:23:12 PM »
I now have what I believe is the two existent  transfers of Ashkenazy's first recording of the Chopin Etudes. One is on Melodiya, the other (pictured below) is on BMG.



These are incredible, poetic, electric performances that no lover of Chopin should miss. I also enjoy the later version by Ashkenazy, but this set has a spontaneity and urgency that is difficult to resist.

I was just comparing the above to the Melodiya CD release of the same performances (minus the Liszt encore, as the Melodiya does not include it) to determine which is the better transfer. Anyone have these two?

When I listen on headphones, the original Melodiya CD release sounds like a cleaner, if slightly quieter transfer (less sound break-ups, drop outs). The piano tone is fuller and more realistic, with deeper low end. The BMG (pictured above) is transferred at a higher volume, yet has much more noise, almost sounding like a CD copy of an LP. It was remastered using "NoNOISE" remastering and has much more distortions in the sound, not to mention a more brittle piano tone.

I found a review of the two releases by Jed Distler.  "The shallow and tubby sonics plaguing the three LP editions I know (MK, Monitor, Saga) have been somewhat tamed in the Russian Disc [Melodiya?] transfer, although there is marked distortion in loud passages. BMG's transfer [pictured above], purportedly effected from the original tapes, seems marginally cleaner, but less atmospheric, as if the air between the notes has been slowly sucked into a vacuum cleaner. Russian Disc [Melodiya?] has no filler, while BMG includes Ashkenazy's whirling dervish take on Liszt's Mephisto Waltz #1 – a fiery, complex reading to set alongside the live Arrau (Ermitage), Feinberg (Harmonia Mundi), and Kapell (BMG), among other great recorded Mephisti."

I debated in the store for awhile today before buying the Melodiya, since I already had the BMG. I am sure glad I picked it up. If you haven't got either one, I strongly suggest doing so and if you can, get the Melodiya. Looks like there's two used (yet expensive) copies on amazon.



« Last Edit: August 15, 2007, 05:29:58 PM by George »

Offline XB-70 Valkyrie

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Re: Ashkenazy's First Recording of the Chopin Etudes
« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2007, 06:11:24 PM »
Heh, I was just in Russia picking up this type of stuff for 165 RUR (about $6) a pop.

Anyway, I agree about the these performances. I have an old LP -- a funky off-brand label (Colisseum?) -- with these, and they are wonderful. To this day, I don't think I've ever heard a better version of the "Aeolian Harp"!

If you really dislike Bach you keep quiet about it! - Andras Schiff

Drasko

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Re: Ashkenazy's First Recording of the Chopin Etudes
« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2007, 06:21:31 PM »
They seem to be bit cheaper from russiandvd

http://www.russiandvd.com/store/product.asp?sku=32111&genreid=

Mark

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Re: Ashkenazy's First Recording of the Chopin Etudes
« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2007, 11:01:56 PM »
Er ... you've pictured the Melodiya disc, George, not the BMG. ???

Offline Holden

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Re: Ashkenazy's First Recording of the Chopin Etudes
« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2007, 11:39:04 PM »
I've had the 1960 Ashkenazy Etudes for a while now and these are the Melodiya. Considering that these were recorded in a maybe less than ideal setting the sound is not bad at all -especially considering that they are mono!

The performances themselves are excellent and while you may find many individual Etude recordings you prefer to these, as a whole they are peerless. The set VA recorded later for Decca are also quite exceptional and a combination of the best of the two sets would be great.

What you have to remember is that Jed Distler is a paid critic (and also a pompous wanker) and his recommendations should be taken with a grain of salt. He obviously can't hear beyond the quality of the sound.
Cheers

Holden

George

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Re: Ashkenazy's First Recording of the Chopin Etudes
« Reply #5 on: August 16, 2007, 03:31:47 AM »
Er ... you've pictured the Melodiya disc, George, not the BMG. ???

It has the Melodiya logo, but it is distributed by BMG and was remastered using NoNOISE Reamstering. Some collectors refer to it as NoMUSIC because they over filter the sound. In this case, however, it's simply a poorer copy, probably from an inferior source.

George

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Re: Ashkenazy's First Recording of the Chopin Etudes
« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2007, 03:34:09 AM »
They seem to be bit cheaper from russiandvd

http://www.russiandvd.com/store/product.asp?sku=32111&genreid=

They indeed do. They are also on the sketchy label Yedang for even cheaper, but I wouldn't trust the transfer as I highly doubt that Yedang had permisssion to release these. 

George

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Re: Ashkenazy's First Recording of the Chopin Etudes
« Reply #7 on: August 17, 2007, 04:37:04 AM »
I've had the 1960 Ashkenazy Etudes for a while now and these are the Melodiya. Considering that these were recorded in a maybe less than ideal setting the sound is not bad at all -especially considering that they are mono!

Absolutely!

Quote
The performances themselves are excellent and while you may find many individual Etude recordings you prefer to these, as a whole they are peerless. The set VA recorded later for Decca are also quite exceptional and a combination of the best of the two sets would be great.

Yes, I first heard the stereo set last year. I played it loud and was very impressed. The mono has a bit more fire in it though, sometimes at unpredictable moments.

Quote
What you have to remember is that Jed Distler is a paid critic (and also a pompous wanker) and his recommendations should be taken with a grain of salt. He obviously can't hear beyond the quality of the sound.

This I find curious. Others have shared their disdain for his criticism with me, but his reviews have helped me find many recordings, including the Rachmaninov Preludes on "Legends" and Ogdon's Etudes Tableaux. Plus, he is a pianist, a quality I like in a reviewer of piano music. 

Offline Holden

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Re: Ashkenazy's First Recording of the Chopin Etudes
« Reply #8 on: August 17, 2007, 02:22:08 PM »

This I find curious. Others have shared their disdain for his criticism with me, but his reviews have helped me find many recordings, including the Rachmaninov Preludes on "Legends" and Ogdon's Etudes Tableaux. Plus, he is a pianist, a quality I like in a reviewer of piano music. 

I suppose that it's a bit like becoming a politician - you go into the job with fire and zeal (and probably a determination not to lie) and after a couple of years, if you wish to progress from the back benches, you toe the party line. Classical music critics are cut from a similar cloth. They pick up the metalanguage used by their more experienced peers and begin to use it' eventually ending up sounding the same as everyone else. Jed Distler is no different IMO. Like anyone else he can hear a good recording but then again, so can we on this forum. I've used the comments of members (including your good self) to find some great recordings and the reasons why they are so good are articulated in a fresh and honest sort of way. Some of us have contributed to Rob's reviews page and these also make very interesting reading.

Unlike us, Jed Distler can't really afford to upset the big companies so where we might pan the latest Lang Lang recorded as a bloated piece of bravura, he has to be much nicer which in effect prejudices his review.
Cheers

Holden

George

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Re: Ashkenazy's First Recording of the Chopin Etudes
« Reply #9 on: August 17, 2007, 04:59:38 PM »

Unlike us, Jed Distler can't really afford to upset the big companies so where we might pan the latest Lang Lang recorded as a bloated piece of bravura, he has to be much nicer which in effect prejudices his review.

Gotcha! I suspect that I have missed many of the reviews that others have referred to.

I wonder where this puts Hurwitz? He seems honest, yet I have little respect for him.  ;D

sidoze

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Re: Ashkenazy's First Recording of the Chopin Etudes
« Reply #10 on: August 19, 2007, 01:44:47 PM »
that early Melodya recording doesn't include the Nouvelles etudes though. I've recently gotten a cd from japan of A playing these live in 1964, a nice complement to the earlier studio set. unfortunately the location is named only in japanese.

Online Que

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Re: Ashkenazy's First Recording of the Chopin Etudes
« Reply #11 on: August 19, 2007, 08:18:00 PM »
It has the Melodiya logo, but it is distributed by BMG and was remastered using NoNOISE Reamstering. Some collectors refer to it as NoMUSIC because they over filter the sound. In this case, however, it's simply a poorer copy, probably from an inferior source.

All recordings I've heard with that NoNoise were totally ruined, so IMO NoMusic indeed.... :-\
Luckily Melodiya's new reissues are much, much better.

Q

Don

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Re: Ashkenazy's First Recording of the Chopin Etudes
« Reply #12 on: August 19, 2007, 08:23:45 PM »
All recordings I've heard with that NoNoise were totally ruined, so IMO NoMusic indeed.... :-\
Luckily Melodiya's new reissues are much, much better.

Q

My problem with "NONoise" recordings is that most or all of the colors are eliminated.

George

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Re: Ashkenazy's First Recording of the Chopin Etudes
« Reply #13 on: August 20, 2007, 04:47:51 AM »
All recordings I've heard with that NoNoise were totally ruined, so IMO NoMusic indeed.... :-\
Luckily Melodiya's new reissues are much, much better.

Q

When you say new reissues, how new do you mean?

Online Que

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Re: Ashkenazy's First Recording of the Chopin Etudes
« Reply #14 on: August 20, 2007, 07:41:51 AM »
When you say new reissues, how new do you mean?

The Mravinsky (2005) & Furtwängler (recent) issues.

Q