- This superb 1970 release from master pianist (and Chopin expert) Phillipe Entremont arrives with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound and fairly quiet vinyl from first note to last
- The transparency and clarity of this vintage pressing are wonderful – sound this good makes it easy to appreciate the subtlety of the Entremont’s remarkable virtuosity
- So big, rich and real – we guarantee this will become one of the best sounding solo piano recordings in your collection, and, of course, the performances are beyond reproach
This vintage CBS Masterworks pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the artist, and feeling as if you are sitting in the concert hall with Mr. Entremont, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.
If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.
What the best sides of Chopin: The Favorite Polonaises have to offer is not hard to hear:
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1970
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange — with the piano having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the studio
No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
If you have full-range speakers, some of the qualities you may recognize in the sound of the piano are WEIGHT and WARMTH. The piano is not hard, brittle or tinkly. Instead the best copies show you a wonderfully full-bodied, warm, rich, smooth piano, one which sounds remarkably like the ones we’ve (hopefully) all heard countless times in concert.
In other words like a real piano, not a recorded one. This is what we look for in a good piano recording. Bad mastering can ruin the sound, and often does, along with worn out stampers and bad vinyl and five gram needles that scrape off the high frequencies. But a few copies survive all such hazards. They manage to reproduce the full spectrum of the piano’s wide range (and of course the wonderful performance of the pianist) on vintage vinyl, showing us the kind of sound we simply cannot find any other way.
Copies with rich lower mids and nice extension up top did the best in our shootout, assuming they weren’t veiled or smeary of course. So many things can go wrong on a record! We know, we’ve heard them all.
Top end extension is critical to the sound of the best copies. Lots of old records (and new ones) have no real top end; consequently, the studio or stage will be missing much of its natural air and space, and instruments will lack their full complement of harmonic information.
Smear is common to most vintage pressings and this is no exception. The copies that tend to do the best in a shootout will have the least (or none), yet are full-bodied, tubey and rich.
What We’re Listening For on Entremont Plays Chopin
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks for the piano, not the smear and thickness common to most LPs.
- Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instrument.
- Then: presence and immediacy. The piano isn’t “back there” somewhere, way behind the speakers. It’s front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would have put it.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Polonaise In C-Sharp Minor, Op. 26, No. 1
Polonaise In E-Flat Minor, Op. 26, No. 2
Polonaise In A Major, Op. 40, No. 1
Polonaise In C Minor, Op. 40, No. 2
Polonaise In F-Sharp Minor, Op. 44
Polonaise In A-Flat Major, Op. 53
Artist Biography by Joseph Stevenson
As a pianist Philippe Entremont is recognized for his performances in the early 20th century repertory and music of the Classical era. Yet, he also has performed and recorded the concertos of the major Romantic composers, as well as conducting orchestral works from the same periods.
Entremont’s father was a conductor, who, when Philippe was a boy, was conductor at the Strasbourg Opera. Philippe’s mother was a pianist, who gave him his first lessons. He studied with Marguerite Long, then in 1944 he went to study at the Paris Conservatory with Jean Doyen. At the age of 12, Entremont won the Harriet Cohen Piano Medal. At the Conservatory he won the first prizes in solfège when he was 12, in chamber music when he was 15, and in piano when he was 16.
He made his professional debut in 1951 in Barcelona and began touring in Europe. He made his American debut on January 5, 1953, with the National Orchestral Association, Jacques Barzun conducting. He became particularly well-known for his interpretations of music by such composers as Milhaud, Stravinsky, Jolivet, and Bernstein. He has appeared as a pianist on five continents in practically every major musical center and with the great orchestras for the world. He also appeared in chamber music presentations, frequently with flutist Jean-Pierre Rampal.