CHOPIN Etudes – Op 10; Op 25
When, if ever, have you heard the Chopin Etudes played as pure music, given as naturally as breathing yet recreated from an entirely novel perspective? From Jan Lisiecki, Chopin’s poetic essence, hidden beneath every thorny, relentlessly focused problem, emerges with an inimitable subtlety and elegance. Lisiecki gives us tone-poems first and studies second, his technique as unobtrusive as it is effortlessly fluent, lissom and precise. Take Op 10 No 1, from Lisiecki a grand maestoso curtain-raiser that transcends a more familiar and determinedly virtuoso rush. No 4 is brilliantly articulate rather than manic or blistering (re Cziffra and, it has to be said, Richter and Argerich). What quiet, scintillating charm in No 5 (the ‘black keys’ etude), what intuition in the agitated short-long-short phrases of No 9.
Rarely have I heard a more assured left hand in the cadenzas or flourishes of Op 25 No 7 (and this within the context of a magically confided reading). No 8 (sixths) is playful and giocoso, while in No 10 (octaves) Lisiecki shows himself no stranger to strength and drama when Chopin is in his stormiest B minor mood. Yet overall it is the luminous quality of his musicianship that strikes you at every turn. DG has struck gold and I can only hope that such a perceptive, natural and unforced talent will remain untarnished by commercial pressures. Never for a moment would I want to be without celebrated recordings by Cortot, early Pollini and Ashkenazy and Perahia, but for a memorable musical recreation Lisiecki stands alone.