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Greg Hettmansberger
Dane101, December 2010

For something that could fit inside a Christmas stocking, try the 2-CD set of Chopin featuring Jorge Bolet. It is getting easier to overlook the Cuban-born pianist who died twenty years ago, and who didn’t come to real international prominence until relatively late in his life. On Newton Classics he performs both Chopin piano concertos with Charles Dutoit and the Montreal Symphony (No. 1 in particular should melt you even on these too-frequent below-zero days!), and the second disc contains the four Ballades, the rife with sighs “Barcarolle” and the “Fantaisie in F minor.”



International Record Review, November 2010

Jorge Bolet recorded the concertos with the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal and Charles Dutoit in 1989. These are spacious readings notable for some lovely quiet playing, but I’m not sure if these youthful works are best served by a pianist who lingers quite so fondly. Bolet is a pianist of immense distinction, but there’s sometimes a sense of flagging momentum here. The same is true of the second disc. Bolet’s nobly conceived Ballades, along with the Fantaisie, Op. 49 and the Barcarolle, are played very sensitively and the sound is beguiling, even if the musical flow seems becalmed at times. However, there’s no shortage of individuality about these performances, especially if you like expansive Chopin.



Jessica Duchen
BBC Music Magazine, October 2010

Performance
Recording

A mixed bag, or maybe an acquired taste: Bolet’s Chopin playing has some stunning moments of eloquence, but sometimes longs for a more fleet-fingered facility



Le Journal de Montréal, August 2010

Un doublé cette semaine qui ressemble fort à un couronnement, avec deux magnifiques enregistrements de l’orchestre symphonique de Montréal sous la direction de Charles Dutoit. Depuis longtemps disparu des bacs de disquaires, le premier (1986 et 1989) nous fait redécouvrir l’acoustique de l’église de Saint-Eustache avec le pianiste cubain Jorge Bolet, qui tient de bout en bout de façon très classique les concertos pour piano de Chopin. Intense, un peu académique, mais oh combine soutenu. La deuxième mouture, beaucoup plus massive, nous entraine sur un chemin de prédilection du maestro soit l’univers de Stravinsky. Mélomanes, amis collectionneurs et néophytes, précipitez-vous de ce pas chez votre disquaire. Dutoit y développe une imagination sans bornes, relayée par une exactitude sans faille et une puissance expressive dont l’OSM, sous ce chef à la poigne d’acier, pouvait s’enorgueillir.



Infodad.com, August 2010

The contrast between the Brahms Ballades and those of Chopin on the two-CD Jorge Bolet release is a fascinating one. It is not just how different the pieces themselves are—each set encapsulates its composer in many ways, and Chopin’s lyricism is a far cry from Brahms’ intensity and near-stolidity. But there is also a tremendous difference in approach between Kovacevich and Jorge Bolet (1914-1990). The Chopin set is all-digital in origin and represents, in the concertos, some of Bolet’s latest work, recorded in 1989 (the shorter pieces date to 1986). Bolet’s late recordings with Charles Dutoit and Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal were among the best of his career: elegant, balanced, emotive, clear and poised. The Chopin concertos flow gorgeously here, and their well-known propensity for giving the orchestra little to do becomes irrelevant as Dutoit uses everything that Chopin does provide to the fullest possible extent. Bolet was an iconoclast in his time, insisting on using Baldwin and Bechstein pianos when most other artists opted (as they still do) for Steinways. This sort of dispute is the stuff of musical trivia, except to the extent that it affects how performances sound. Bolet’s Chopin sounds simply wonderful. He plays with commitment and intensity, fully understanding the romanticism of the music without going overboard into mere display or undue emotionalism. He was an exceptional pianist, and this two-CD set will likely make fans of those who do not already know his work.



Classicalsource.com, July 2010

From Decca’s catalogue, these searchingly-imperious accounts of the solo pieces are leavened with tenderness and flexibility, Jorge Bolet (1914–90) bequeathing us Chopin of high romance and deeply expression; some very special playing, richly sounded. The concertos are given imposing performances, Charles Dutoit and the Montreal offering vibrant and sensitive support to Bolet’s nicely-matured, grand-mannered display, ornate and authoritative.






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