Krystian Zimerman is getting better as he gets older. He used to be one of a half-dozen great young pianists, a brilliant virtuoso with tremendous expressivity, enormous soul, and a habit of making even fewer recordings than Argerich or Pollini. Over the years of ever-fewer recordings, he's grown into an astounding virtuoso and the emotional power of his interpretations have grown with his technique.
Krystian Zimerman stands as one of the most sensitive and exacting concert pianists to emerge in the latter half of the 20th century. His extensive recordings as an exclusive Deutsche Grammophon artist cover a broad range of repertoire from the classical period to contemporary music.
Bartók's influence in the Forties and Fifties grew to a great height throughout the Soviet satellites of Eastern Europe, particularly among the better composers. True, one found serialists like Eisler in East Germany and Tadeusz Baird in Poland, but they seemed exceptions, rather than the rule. In Poland, for example, we meet the examples of the remarkable Grazyna Bacewicz and Witold Lutoslawski. Lutoslawski especially seemed to regard Bartók as Brahms did Beethoven, a spiritual father who inspired within him both an almost stifling reverence and the need to break free.
Everything that Schubert wrote seemed to have melody as its starting point. His piano music, so different from that of Beethoven, pulsates with this innate lyricism. The two sets of impromptus, not fiendishly difficult to play, require a pianist who can make the piano sing. Such a pianist is Krystian Zimerman. Indeed, his use of rubato and minute tempo fluctuations might seem excessive to some, especially in D 899 No 1, but I find them well-judged. Noting also Zimerman's velvet touch, and the warm DGG acoustic as recorded in 1991, I count this CD a total success.
Krystian Zimerman made two Liszt discs for Deutsche Grammophon in 1987 and 1990 respectively: one of the two Piano Concertos and Totentanz, with the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Seiji Ozawa, the other of solo piano music, comprising Liszt's masterwork, the B minor Sonata,and a selection of late piano works - spooky, often unnerving pieces, like Nuages gris and La lugubre gondola II.
Krystian Zimerman's Chopin is big. He plays this music with a great dynamic range and huge contrasts, with little of the shading we love in Rubinstein's Chopin. Except for the Barcarolle, these are pretty big pieces, so Zimerman doesn't exactly overwhelm the music.
This is playing in the grand manner… Ozawa and the orchestra are behind the soloist in all this and the deciso element is fully realized. But don't let me imply a lack of finesse; not only do lyrical sections sing with subtlety, the big passages also are shapely… In the gorgeously grisly Totentanz, both music and playing should make your hair stand on end. - C.H.; Gramophone
It was an eminently sensible decision to couple Zimerman's previously separate Chopin concertos on a single CD. The Ax/Ormandy/RCA disc is the only rival as a coupling, so let me say at once that in different moods I would be equally happy with either. The main difference, I think, is the actual sound. From DG we get a closer, riper sonority, with Zimerman's piano much more forwardly placed. Both orchestra and piano are more distanced on the RCA recording, especially Ax's piano. This, together with Ax's lighter, more translucent semiquaver figuration (and sometimes his greater willingness to stand back and merely accompany—as in certain episodes in the F minor Concerto's finale) often conjures up visions of Chopin himself at the keyboard, and we know he was often criticized for insufficiently strong projection.
Leonard Bernstein was slated to conduct the entire set of these piano concertos. At the time of his death, however, he had completed the third, fourth and fifth concertos only. In tribute to Bernstein, Krystian Zimerman and the Vienna Philharmonic recorded the remaining concertos without a conductor.
Krystian Zimerman - the youngest ever winner of the prestigious Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw at the age of eighteen – giving his Homage to Chopin and Schubert. As a brilliant musician, a renown specialist in Romantic music Krystian Zimerman combines all the prerequisites for an authorative interpretation of Chopin´s works.