Challenge Classics Reviews
Chopin – Challenge Classics
Angela Brownridge leaves me with the impression of being more than one pianist. She can be as fierce as Agerich and as poetic as Perlmutter, commanding the ability to change like an artful chameleon. It is difficult to put a ‘type’ label on her, and that, I think, is her greatest strength. She is not a piano acrobat, nor is she trying to dramatize. She is her own, with an incomparable personality, and those who are fortunate to appreciate that will find here much to enjoy.
In the Sonata No.2 several scores exist and its first movement has disputed repeats which some respect. Brownridge opts for the short version like her illustrious predecessors Cortot, Rubenstein, Horowitz and Gilels. Whatever the personal choice, Brownridge very well holds her own in this exclusive field. She addresses the irrational and dramatic darkness of the Sonata in a perfectly and well-judged contrasting manner with its moments of poetic melancholia and forceful attacks.
Brownridge’s story-telling is gripping, catchingly spontaneous with a well-developed sense of coherence and expression, letting the listener share in what she sees and feels. A true artist.
The Fantasy gets a rendition as only pianists of the top echelon can deliver: 12 minutes of sheer perfection!
Adrian Quanjer Performance Sonics (Multichannel)
Sometimes it happens that a reviewer falls off his chair. Not because it’s so bad, but quite the opposite: as if suddenly a very fresh breeze goes through the room, as if ‘something’ happens, you cannot name it, but it is evidently there. I was sent this Chopin CD, knowing nothing of Ms Angela Brownridge (but be assured that I am going on a search), but from the first bars I was completely under the spell of her playing. This is Chopin – and it sounds disrespectful – at his best. I cannot be too brief about her technique, because what I hear is phenomenal, brilliant, the piano souond remains noble even in the most intensive bursts, the use of pedal is in one word exquisite, the colours of her touch are ones which are seldom heard, legato and staccato are masterfully woven, accelerandi and rubati rhetorically completely natural, left and right hand in perfect balance, dynamic highlights perfectly in line with the story she is telling. Who can play Chopin like that, has the world in their hands. What contrasts Brownridge lifts from these pieces, and how much she knows how to ‘play’ the tempi, her playing is as intuitive as it is thought through. A rare combination. The quasi improvisatory character of the great Fantasy Opus 49 swells to a miracle land under her hands, the second sonata unleashed a true revolution in seamless time-keeping. A fabulously good recital.
Aart van der Wal, February 2017
Beethoven: Piano Sonatas 3, 23 and 30
Challenge Classics CC72707
This new Beethoven disc by the wonderful pianist Angela Brownridge is absolutely superb. She plays with a combination of amazing subtlety and dynamic control right down to very nuanced pianissimos paired with a ferocious strength and lightning fast virtuosity. This combination makes Brownridge perfectly suited to giving us incandescent performances of these three Beethoven sonatas. She recreates all the gentle moods as well as all the wild technical tours de force that Beethoven incorporated in his music and was himself renowned for as a performer.
Angela Brownridge has always been a remarkable pianist from her early days as a child prodigy, but with age she has become more subtle musically, whilst her youthful technical virtuosity still continues to reach even higher peaks. The total control in these recordings is absolutely amazing and reminds me more than anything of the legendary pianist, Solomon. I found myself captivated and pulled into the music right from the delicate precision of the first notes of the Sonata No.3 in C major which quickly expands into a wild flurry of arpeggios. The Adagio is played with the utmost sensitivity with attention to every tiny detail. The very intense rendition of “The Appassionata” and an equally wonderful performance of the Sonata Op.109 in E – three very different masterpieces of the piano literature, are all played in a way which would have made Beethoven proud. Everything ios performed so seemingly easily and with such panache that any technical difficulties are rendered completely irrelevant. Like Solomon, Brownridge focuses so precisly on what the music is doing that she makes you hear what she hears and guides you through the muysic so masterfully that it sounds completely new. The recorded sound is excellent and truly shows all the details of these magical performances. Even if you think you know these pieces well and have heard them many times you should listen to this disc. It will oipen your eyes to details you have never noticed and give you greater insight into these wonderful masterpieces.
Alice Artzt, Princeton, USA
Debussy – Préludes Books I and II; L’Isle Joyeuse
Challenge CC72727 (77′ 18″)
A wholly exceptional record, in which Angela Brownridge shows herself to be a Debussy pianist without equal, her technique placed wholly at the service of this great music which she interprets with the finest imaginable combination of style and musical understanding. The recording quality is of demonstration standard, making a disc that deserves a place in any record collection. Most comprehensively recommended.