BACH; CHOPIN Confluences

Author: 
Jed Distler
EUD-SACD1703. BACH; CHOPIN ConfluencesBACH; CHOPIN Confluences

BACH; CHOPIN Confluences

  • (Das) Wohltemperierte Klavier, '(The) Well-Tempered Clavier, Selection
  • (27) Etudes, C, Op. 10/1
  • (27) Etudes, A minor, Op. 10/2
  • (27) Etudes, C sharp minor, Op. 10/4
  • (27) Etudes, G flat, 'Black Keys', Op. 10/5
  • (27) Etudes, E flat minor, Op. 10/6
  • (27) Etudes, F, Op. 10/8
  • (27) Etudes, F minor, Op. 10/9
  • (27) Etudes, E flat, Op. 10/11
  • (27) Etudes, F minor, Op. 25/2
  • (27) Etudes, C minor, Op. 25/12
  • Nocturnes, No. 3 in B, Op. 9/3
  • Nocturnes, No. 13 in C minor, Op. 48/1
  • Nocturnes, No. 14 in F sharp minor, Op. 48/2

Josep Colom does more than merely intersperse Bach Preludes from The Well-Tempered Clavier and various Nocturnes and Études by Chopin. He juxtaposes most of them with careful consideration vis-à-vis key relationships and textural commonalities, and improvises (at least I think he improvises) seamless transitions that connect the pieces, assiduously interweaving all of the music into a continuous, mosaic-like fabric.

For example, after the Chopin ‘Black Key’ Étude’s climactic cascading octaves and concluding chord, Colom cuts off that chord except for a lone, sustained G flat. This note dovetails into a lyrical single melody line that first explores a G flat pentatonic scale but soon modulates and ambles its way into the vicinity of the Bach E minor Prelude’s basic rhythm. The Bach Prelude starts before you know it. At the Prelude’s end, Colom effects a shorter linear bridge that quickly yet comfortably eases into Chopin’s E flat minor Étude. By contrast, a longer, cadenza-like passage provides a convincingly Chopinesque passageway from the latter’s B major Nocturne, Op 9 No 3, to Bach’s F sharp minor Prelude. As the programme approaches its final stages, Colom dispenses with interludes, save for just a handful of notes to provide a little wiggle-room between the Bach C minor Prelude’s rhapsodic ending and the arpeggio floodgate of Chopin’s C minor Étude, Op 25 No 12.

Sometimes Colom’s performances downplay stylistic differences to the point of homogeneity. Notice, for instance, the almost romanticised dynamic contrasts of the Bach C major Prelude leading into more intimately sculpted, less glittery extended figurations than usual in the Chopin Étude in the same key, Op 10 No 1. The diptych of Bach’s D major Prelude/Chopin’s F major Étude, Op 10 No 8, share similar holds, hesitations and taperings one otherwise might question in stand-alone readings. In other words, more incisive and diversely characterised interpretation would not only strengthen the case for Colom’s provocative programme-building but also help sustain interest over repeated hearings.

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