Living Stereo: Frederic Chopin – Arthur Rubinstein – Ballades and Scherzos (2004) {PS3 ISO + FLAC}

Frederic Chopin – Arthur Rubinstein – Ballades and Scherzos
SACD ISO (2.0/MCH): 3,09 GB | 24B/88,2kHz Stereo FLAC: 1,23 GB | Full Artwork | 3% Recovery Info
Label/Cat#: RCA Red Seal “Living Stereo” # 82876-61396-2 | Country/Year: Europe 2004, 1959
Genre: Classical | Style: Romantic, Piano

If you like Artur Rubinstein’s Chopin, then this is a disc to get.
The sound here is slightly better than that on the Rubinstein Collection, but still better. Can only hope for more Chopin here in the future.

This is from the “Living Stereo” series by RCA, now re-released on SACD. The original 2 or 3 track analog masters were used. The multichannel tracks use the front 3 channels only. The stereo presented is the original mix, no remixing. The sound is great. You can hear Rubenstein breathing, and even some of his fingers hitting the keys are audible. The piano benefits from the SACD treatment…no tininess in the upper register. There are a few extraneous noises I can’t explain, but they are in no way obtrusive.

The performances are heavenly. Rubenstein, Polish himself, was a lifelong exponent of Chopin, in his full romantic expression. I can always reccomend Rubenstein when listening to any Chopin. Others are also wonderful (Ashkenazy, Perahia), but you simply MUST have some Rubenstein. Buy this SACD, get a good glass of your favorite spirit, put on your best headphones and feel the music. You will then be doing a search on Amazon for Rubenstein….trust me!

I bought the 20-bit reincarnation (1999 mix in the Rubinstein collection) of this recording just two months before the release of the SACD version, so I had to compare them. The SACD is better. It is smoother and warmer than the 20-bit version. More importantly, the SACD is also CHEAPER! It’s hard to beat Rubinstein’s interpretation of the Ballades. These must be incredibly difficult to play and interpret well. It is easy to over interpret them. I have Wild’s, Zimerman’s, Perahia’s, amongst others. Rubinstein’s seems to be the one that is just about right…not overdone..not too fast… etc. I strongly recommend this SACD for anyone who loves Chopin.

Starting with Ballade no.1 I thought Perahia was even more dramatic and was thinking well Rubenstein was born in 1887 so was over 70 when he made these recordings. Well straight on to number 2 and he was even more fiery than Perahia in the tempestuous outer sections!

Everyone will have favourite recordings (Perahia in the Ballades, Richter or Arrau in the Scherzi)but the more you listen to Rubenstein the more you understand his reputation as a Chopin magician.

The only tempo I would quibble with is the beautiful slow section in the middle of the First Scherzi (based if I recall correctly on an old Polish carol?)- I wish it was even slower.

The piano has a big, bold sound though it is slighlty clattery and of course doesn’t have the depth and resonance of a modern DSD recording.

SACD Info:

Frederic Chopin – Arthur Rubinstein – Ballades and Scherzos

Label: RCA Red Seal
Series: Living Stereo
Catalog#: 82876-61396-2
Format: Hybrid-SACD, Album, Reissue, Stereo, Multichannel
Country: Europe
Released: 2004, 1959
Genre: Classical
Style: Romantic, Piano


1. Ballade No.1 in G Minor, Op.23 – (9:22)
2. Ballade No.2 in F, Op.38 – (6:42)
3. Ballade No.3 in A-Flat, Op.47 – (7:19)
4. Ballade No.4 in F Minor, Op.52 – (10:49)
5. Scherzo No.1 in B Minor, Op.20 – (9:07)
6. Scherzo No.2 in B-Flat Minor, Op.31- (9:46)
7. Scherzo No.3 in C-Sharp Minor, Op.39- (7:17)
8. Scherzo No.4 in E, Op.54 – (10:58)




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