Pascal Amoyel’s Chopin Nocturnes


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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