Pascal Amoyel’s Chopin Nocturnes

DistlerFri 6th August 2010
Pascal Amoyel’s 2004 Chopin Nocturnes set: available againPascal Amoyel’s 2004 Chopin Nocturnes set: available again

It's good to have them back

Chopin
Nocturnes (complete). Berceuse, Op 57
Pascal Amoyel pf
Calliope (M) (2) CAL33512 (120’ • DDD)

It’s good to have Pascal Amoyel’s 2004 Chopin Nocturnes set available
again. Like Nelson Freire in his recent Decca traversals, Amoyel
favours an intimate style that makes its points through nuance and
voicing more than wide dynamic contrasts. In other words, look
elsewhere if you expect turbulence in Op 15 No 1’s central episode, or
Op 32 No 1’s recitative-like coda to shock you out of your reverie.
Amoyel tends to round off melodies to the point where the final notes
struggle to register against the accompaniment, and doesn’t quite match
Freire’s seemingly nonchalant ability to float over the bar line.
Compare, for example, the Op 62 No 2’s E major opening section, where
Amoyel’s velvet tone and unruffled calm contrasts with how Freire
propels the narrative with the slightest accent here and the slightest
rubato there.

However, like Angela Hewitt, Amoyel opts for the famous Op 9 No 2 E
flat Nocturne’s highly ornamented variant text, and is not averse to
adding his own, tasteful emendations elsewhere. And although his
leisurely, soft-grained readings of Op 27 No 2 and Op 55 No 2 might
seem bland on first hearing, repeated hearings reveal more shape and
sustaining power. I also hoped that would be true of the Berceuse Op 57
that opens disc one, but, no; by the tenth time around, the
interpretation still sounded foursquare and boring. Unlike Pollini,
Rubinstein, Moravec and Freire, Amoyel gives us both posthumously
published Nocturnes in addition to the “traditional” nineteen with opus
numbers. Jed Distler

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Distler

Composer, pianist, concert presenter and Gramophone contributor Jed Distler looks back, present and forward about the piano in our lives, and the lives of the piano.

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