Nino Gvetadze, a new name to me, is a Georgian pianist (b1981, Tbilisi) who makes her home in Amsterdam. Chopin recitals on disc are numberless and any pianist faces stiff competition in a crowded marketplace whatever the programme one chooses – and whatever one decides to call it. This one is called ‘Ghosts’ for reasons that escape me, but then I don’t share Gvetadze’s view that any of Chopin’s music conjures up ‘a ghostly journey’ in which ‘suddenly, the soul wakes up and waltzes into space’.
Though the disc begins with the Preludes, I elected to start with the E flat minor Étude, among the most sombre and subdued of Opp 10 and 25. The frequent intakes of breath, the deliberate phrasing and general air of introspection betoken a carefully prepared studio recording. The same is true of the sequence of three waltzes which follow. The B flat minor Scherzo is a less cautious affair, a performance with a compelling narrative and Gvetadze producing a warm, rounded tone in the middle register (albeit contrasted by an over-brilliant upper treble at ff).
The Preludes are a mixed bag. No 2 in A minor is unusually slow (2'36") but rather effective, as is No 20 in C minor; No 3’s swirling left-hand semiquavers are over-pedalled; No 4 in E minor suffers from exaggerated rubato. I turned to a trio of historic recordings to remind myself how these pieces sound with playing of a more distinct personality. Cortot, for instance, in 1926 plays the G sharp minor Prélude at the prescribed presto throughout (there are no rits or ralls marked as Gvetadze has it); Moiseiwitsch, recorded in 1948, keeps the ‘Raindrop’ at a steady pace (4'53" compared to Gvetadze’s enervating 5'52"); while Robert Lortat gives us, among others, a fabulous C sharp minor Prelude (No 10) in his underrated survey from 1928. That said, there is some lovely playing here and Gvetadze is clearly a musician of taste and intelligence. Whether this recital amounts to more than a calling card and will raise her profile must remain a moot point.