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Paperno Plays Chopin
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Paperno Plays Chopin
Dmitry Paperno, piano
Cedille Records CDR 90000 026

"Paperno's playing is exceptionally strong: colorful, forthright, original, and tonally suave. The phrasing is elegant and poetic. The two scherzos, especially No. 4, are put forth with a tremendous rush of energy; the ballade [No. 4] and the fantasy are powerfully shaped, among the best I've heard of these sublime pieces . . . Paperno is an artist." (Fanfare)

"Paperno's clarity and technique are remarkable . . . [he] does honor to the music." (Classical Pulse!)

Pianist Dmitry Paperno is delighted when an observer notes similarities between the disciplined power and passion of his playing and the music of Chopin. "It's my approach to music in general and Chopin in particular," he says.

A major pianist in Russia in the 1960s and 70s, Paperno has been a lifelong exponent of -- but not a specialist in -- Chopin's music. This CD presents performances from the 1955 International Chopin Competition in Warsaw and his later years in Chicago. The CD, Paperno's fourth recording for Cedille, documents three decades in the evolution of his artistry -- all through the works of one composer in recordings of performances never released commercially.

A striking feature of the program is the contrast between the considerably faster playing that prevailed in 1955 and the slower (though hardly slow) tempos heard in Paperno's concerts recorded between 1977 and 1989 by radio station WFMT.

According to Karp's Dictionary of Music, "Chopin epitomized the Romantic concept of intimate art. He exhibited a remarkable control over dynamic nuances. Although his music contains many heroic moments, the heroism is an inner personal quality and not a pose to obtain the adulation of the crowd."

Paperno's pianism has been described in similar terms. Stereo Review's Richard Freed, in reviewing Paperno's first disc on Cedille, was struck by Paperno's "affectionate conviction" in what he plays and the "touch of poetry" in his playing. "That quality makes itself felt throughout the entire program, in fact, in the least aggressive way: You feel the pianist is really finding it in the music rather than imposing it from the outside," Freed wrote. CD Review noted, "Paperno avoids the twin traps of overinterpretation and repression of honest expression."

The international Chopin Competition still ranks among the world's most distinguished piano competitions. The Soviet entrants in 1955 felt incredible pressure to make a strong showing: winning an international honor was essential to securing state support as a concert artist. It was a defining moment for the young artists. Paperno's prize-winning performance at the event launched his concert career.

The CD booklet includes Paperno's firsthand, behind-the-scenes account of the 1955 competition, which are excerpts from his book: Notes of a Moscow Pianist (Amadeus Press) published in 1998.
Click here to download the CD booklet.

Click the Cedille Player at the upper left to hear excerpts from the tracks highlighted in red below. These have been carefully chosen as representative of the recording program.

PROGRAM (73:48)


Broadcast "concerts" for Chicagos Fine Arts radio station WFMT
1. Scherzo No. 1 in B minor, Op. 20 (8:29)
2. Impromptu No. 2 in F-sharp major, Op. 38 (5:03)
3. Ballade No. 4 in F-minor, Op. 52 (10:29)
4. Nocturne in C-sharp minor, Op. 27, No. 1 (5:13)
5. Fantasy in F-minor, Op. 49 (12:58)

From the 1955 Fifth International Chopin Competition in Warsaw
Stage Two
6. Prelude in C-sharp minor, Op. 45 (4:29)
7. Etude in A minor, Op. 10, No. 2 (1:13)
8. Etude in F major, Op. 10, No. 8 (2:06)
Stage Three
9. Concerto in F minor, Op. 21, 2nd mvt (8:12)

Laureates Concert
10. Mazurka in F-sharp minor, Op. 59, No. 3 (2:54)
11. Mazurka in A-flat major, Op. 41, No. 4 (1:43)
12. Scherzo No. 4 in E major, Op. 54 (9:06)

Recorded: Tracks 1 & 2: DePaul University Concert Hall, May 15, 1980. Track 3: WFMT Studio One, January 17, 1989. Track 4: Mandel Hall at the University of Chicago, July 22, 1977. Track 5: WFMT Studio One, November 22, 1983. Tracks 6 - 12: Material under license from The Fryderyk Chopin Society, Warsaw, Poland / Producer: James Ginsburg / Cover: Photo by Erik S. Lieber / Design: Cheryl A Boncuore / Notes: Dmitry Paperno