Classical Album of the Week

Classical Album of the Week

The music of Frédéric Chopin has been recorded hundreds of times before — but never like this.

Award-winning Icelandic classical and pop musician Ólafur Arnalds (celebrated recently for composing the score for TV series Broadchurch) has always loved the piano music of Frédéric Chopin, but he’d grown weary of the uniform and standardized ‘perfection’ of most Chopin recordings.

“There has been no re-invention of the way Chopin’s music has been presented since recording began, and I was longing for someone to come along and try something different,” says Arnalds. “And one day, on a long flight to London, I thought: why don’t I do it myself?

And thus, in partnership with the acclaimed German-Japanese pianist Alice Sara Ott, The Chopin Project was born.

The usual model of recording Chopin’s music usually involves a top-of-the-range piano, but Arnalds imagined it differently.

“Why not use the technology we have not only as a tool, but as part of the actual interpretation?,” he says. “Why can’t the microphones, the room – the sound – ­also be the performer?”

In order to achieve his aim, Arnalds developed an intimate, fragile and often charmingly imperfect sound using old, unusual, altered pianos captured on vintage recording equipment. He also employed various mixing techniques to reenforce feelings of solitude or loneliness, and to create dreamlike ambient soundscapes.

Add all of this to the exquisite piano-playing of Alice Sara Ott and you have perhaps the most fascinating and original interpretation of Chopin’s music since the composer himself wrote it.

Surrounded by synthesizers and strings, enjoy the work of Chopin as interpreted by two of the world’s most exciting and dynamic classical superstars.

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