Harasiewicz: Chopin collection (Sonata No. 2, etc.) - Philips H 71 AX 218 (2LPs)
Jacket NM / Vinyl NM / German pressing
This handsome 2-LP gatefold set from Philips (H 71 AX 218, German pressing, red/silver labels, stereo) features the splendid pianist Adam Harasiewicz in a generous selection of recordings from his complete Chopin survey, made for the Dutch label during the late 1950s through the early to mid-1960s.
The exact contents are as follows:
Barcarolle in F-sharp minor Op. 60
Berceuse in D-flat Major Op. 57
Waltz No. 1 in E-flat Major Op. 18 “Grande valse brillante”
Impromptu No. 4 in C-sharp minor Op. 66 “Fantasie-Impromptu”
Mazurka No. 37 in A-flat Major Op. 59 No. 2
Waltz No. 2 in A-flat Major Op. 34 No. 1 “Valse brillante”
Nocturne No. 5 in F-sharp Major Op. 15 No. 2
Mazurka No. 5 in B-flat Major Op. 7 No. 1
Scherzo No 2 in B-flat minor Op. 31
Polonaise No. 3 in A-flat Major Op. 40 No. 1 “Military”
Etude No. 3 in E Major Op. 10 No. 3”Tristesse”
Nocturne No. 13 in C minor Op. 48 No. 1
Scherzo No. 3 in C-sharp minor Op. 39
Waltz No. 6 in D-sharp Major Op. 64 No. 1 “Minute Waltz”
Polonaise No. 6 in A-flat Major Op. 53 “Heroic”
Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor Op[. 35 “Funeral March”
Etude No. 12 in C-sharp minor Op. 10 No. 12 “Revolutionary”
In writing of a Philips CD re-issue that contained some of these performances, the critic for The Gramophone wrote:
“There are always pleasant surprises in a survey of this kind and mine was the Chopin playing of Adam Harasiewicz. He has the inestimable advantage of a very truthful Philips piano sound, which even in the early 1960s was impressively well balanced. His complete Nocturnes were made in groups over a period, which surely accounts for their freshness and spontaneity… At all times he puts the composer's interests first.”
And of another Philips CD re-issue, the erudite critic Adrian Jack wrote for BBC Music Magazine:
“There are not many good complete recordings of Chopin's dances in the current catalogue, so] a big welcome to the Philips compilation of the Polonaises and Waltzes - not quite all the Waltzes, though only anoraks will complain about the minor omissions.
“Adam Harasiewicz won the Warsaw Chopin Competition in 1955, preceding Pollini [in 1960] and Argerich [in 1965]. I have no hesitation in making this issue my benchmark for both Polonaises and Waltzes. Harasiewicz has an impeccable sense of style - just listen to the crisp edge he gives the opening of the "Military" Polonaise, Op. 40 no. 1 - and he also has an acute poetic sense - as in the gloomy fatalism which hangs over the E flat minor Polonaise, Op. 26/2.
“His command of Chopin's virtuoso decorative writing is superb, too - he revels in it - and he's one of the very few pianists to solve the riddle of the problematic Polonaise-Fantaisie, taking the listener through it without any uncertainty.
“In the Polonaises Harasiewicz keeps a sense of dignified poise. In the Waltzes, on the other hand, he is irresistibly physical, even punchy, while characterising contrasted sections with a brilliant sense of character.”
The interiors panel of the gatefold jacket contains extensive liner notes (writer uncredted), printed in German only. Bound into the center of the jacket is a full-size catalog showing full-color reproductions of albums by Harasiewicz and other Philips artists. The striking cover photo of the pianist is similarly uncredited.
The gradations of condition I use are as follows: MINT, Near-Mint, Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor.
The condition of the jacket is near-MINT. Aside from minuscule corner wear, really there are no flaws to speak of and the album appears virtually as new. There are no bends, owners' markings, or other faults and the whole remains solid, bright, glossy, and highly attractive – a superb collector's copy.
The condition of the 2 LPs is near-MINT throughout and playback is superb in both – overall, these rate as truly fine collector's copies.