For many, Daniel Barenboim is thought of primarily as a conductor today. But this album, recorded in Warsaw only last year, sees him back at the piano in triumphant form.

This live recital spans a huge range of Chopin’s works, from his Fantasia in F minor to the Nocturne in B-flat major; the Sonata in B-flat minor, through Barcarolles, Waltzes, the Berceuse in D-flat major, and the resounding Polonaise in A flat major. It’s an all-encompassing tribute marking the 2010 bicentenary of Chopin’s birth.

There are many idiosyncrasies in Barenboim’s reading – sometimes a playfulness with tempi and weight that make the listener hear a piece in a completely new way, or a thoughtful new interpretation of a phrase or interval. Only once, in what seems a wilful account of the martial Polonaise in A-flat major, does the interpretation seem at odds with the work – or at least, with the interpretations we are most familiar with.

The recording reaffirms his position as one of the great pianists of the latter part of the 20th century and it is great to see his keyboard career extended into the new century in such a manner. This is a live recording, and the acoustics of the Warsaw National Philharmonic Hall are not perfect, but the performance makes that irrelevant; we’re privileged to be witnesses to the event.

The Warsaw recital is also available on DVD.

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