- Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor, Op. 11, CT. 47
- Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor, Op. 21, CT. 48
Coming only a few months after Martha Argerich's incandescent, almost painfully intense recordings of these same two concertos swept the field, Krystian Zimerman captures the high splendor of Chopin's vision with unprecedented poetry and rhetorical force. Zimerman's heightened imagination is rooted both in a profound knowledge of how the music works dramatically and in a commitment to share the musical responsibilities with the hand-picked orchestra of young Polish musicians with whom he seems to commune intimately. Each phrase, whether in the orchestra or in the piano, is played as if it were the most exquisite ever written, and the harmony of utterance that exists between the orchestra and the soloist is complete. Speeds are slow (Zimerman's performances total 13 minutes more than Argerich's), but if you find Zimerman's daring approach as rich in sensation as I do, your only regret will be that the parallel universe of beauty you have discovered comes to an end too soon. Whether you know the music well or are coming to it for the first time, the way in which these performances make the music come alive is a very heady experience. Zimerman's liner notes (which generously list the names of the orchestra's 50 musicians) illuminate his approach in an entirely accessible way, and the excellent sound captures the dynamic range and gorgeous color of the music-making. If the 1999 Chopin anniversary celebrations had produced only this one experience, it would have been worth the effort.