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Frédéric Chopin: Twenty Four Etudes op. 10 and op. 25
Irena Portenko (piano)
Recorded at Blue Griffin’s Studio “The Ballroom”, New York (July 15 & 16, 2009 ) – 62’56
Blue Griffin Recording BGR2 – Short biography and program note inside the cover (in English)

There is absolutely no shortage of recordings of Chopin’s Études op. 10 and op. 25 on the market. One can choose from milestone recordings by great masters of the past like Artur Rubinstein, Alfred Cortot and Claudio Arrau, and more recent pianists like Maurizio Pollini, Murray Perahia, or Nicolai Lugansky, to name a few. It is a bold step for any pianist today to want to add yet another recording of the complete Chopin Études to the vast variety the market already has to offer. Ukrainian born, New York based pianist Irena Portenko had the courage to do so. Her recording of the 24 Chopin Études was released on the occasion of Chopin’s 200th birthday in 2010.

Chopin’s oeuvre is commonly considered the synonym for wildly romantic and passionate piano music. Irena Portenko refreshingly steers clear of this stereotype. Her recording demonstrates in an exemplary way that these 24 Études are exactly what the nomenclature denotes: studies for the piano, each one addressing a specific aspect of technique for the instrument. Although Portenko demonstrates great agility and impeccable technique in her playing, the strongest moments in her recording are perhaps the more introvert, quieter Études like the op. 10/6 in E flat minor or op. 25/7 in C sharp minor. Here Irena Portenko fascinates with insightful readings. In some of the more sumptuous etudes, like the very first one, op.10/1 in C major or the famous Revolutionary Etude op. 10/12 in C minor, her playing may come across somewhat lacking in power. Her overall choice of tempi is excellent, without the exaggerations and mannerisms that we hear all too often nowadays. A welcome addition to the collection!

Irena Portenko’s Website

Wiebke Kuester




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