Playlist: 8 Chopin Recordings Every Music Lover Should Own

By Lisa Flynn |

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If you love the music of Frédéric Chopin and are looking to expand your recording collection, here are a few albums you might want to consider. The 8 recordings below feature 8 different pianists performing 8 different genres, giving you an appreciation for the diversity of Chopin’s works and the musicians who perform them.


Mazurkas — Arthur Rubinstein

Along with the polonaises, Chopin’s mazurkas are the most "Polish" of his works, embodying the spirit of folk music and dance. When Arthur Rubinstein made the first complete recording of the Mazurkas in the 1930s, it’s said that he demonstrated to his producers the steps of the dances that influenced Chopin.

Rubinstein Collection, Vol. 50, Frederic Chopin, 51 Mazurkas on Alliance


Sonatas — Martha Argerich

The Chopin Competition in Warsaw has launched many a pianist’s career. Martha Argerich shot to worldwide fame in 1964 when she won the competition at the age of 24. Her recordings of the sonatas showcase playing of fearless virtuosity that has thrilled audiences ever since.

Martha Argerich: The Collection 1 - The Solo Recordings on Deutsche Grammophon


Waltzes — Garrick Ohlsson

Garrick Ohlsson was the first American to win the Chopin Competition in 1970. He has an incredibly broad repertoire but is still known as a fine Chopin interpreter. Among the highlights of Ohlsson’s recordings of Chopin’s complete works are his brilliant and elegant performances of the waltzes.

Chopin - The Complete Waltzes on Helios


Polonaises — Maurizio Pollini

Chopin wrote polonaises from his youth to his later years. Their style changed over time, but all were born out of Chopin’s strong patriotism. Maurizio Pollini, winner of the 1960 Chopin Competition, finds the nobility, heroism and tragedy in these works based on Poland’s national dance.

Chopin - Polonaises on Deutsche Grammophon


Concertos — Emanuel Ax

Chopin’s piano concertos were the work of a young composer looking to show off his virtuosic skills. They have remained popular ever since their first performances. Emanuel Ax recreates the piano sound that would have been familiar to Chopin by playing the concertos on an 1851 Érard instrument.

Chopin — Concerto No. 1 in E minor, Concerto No 2. in F minor on RCA


Nocturnes — Maria João Pires

The nocturnes are some of Chopin’s most intimate and atmospheric works. He took a form created by the Irish composer and pianist John Field and made it his own. Playing with a sensitive, song-like touch, Maria João Pires shows how these poetic pieces have come to embody Chopin’s music.

Chopin — The Noctures on Deutsche Grammophon


Etudes — Vladimir Ashkenazy

Before Chopin, the etude was an exercise designed to explore a particular technical skill. Chopin’s were the first to be performed in the concert hall. Vladimir Ashkenazy is among the great pianists bold enough to take on the challenge of recording Chopin’s complete etudes.

Chopin — 27 Etudes on Decca


Preludes — Yundi

Yundi was propelled to the international stage when he took first prize at the 2000 Chopin Competition, becoming the youngest and the first Chinese winner. He continues to be regarded as one of today’s leading Chopin interpreters. In the preludes, Yundi explores a microcosm of moods, colors and expressions.

Chopin — Preludes on Deutsche Grammophon

What albums would you add to the list? Tell us in the comments below.