CHOPIN Impromptus, Waltzes & Mazurkas (Pavel Kolesnikov)
At last, here we have 18 pieces of Chopin by a pianist whose name is rapidly becoming synonymous with searching originality, rhetorical aptness and kinaesthetic authority, Pavel Kolesnikov. I say ‘at last’, because for connoisseurs of Kolesnikov’s magisterial 24 Mazurkas for Hyperion three years ago (A/16), it has seemed a long wait, though happily one more than justified by this extraordinary new disc.
The programme is exquisitely laid out: a handful of Waltzes, including less familiar ones written as album gifts, followed by nine Mazurkas, culminating in the extended narrative of the F minor Fantasy, all encompassed by the four thematic pillars of the Impromptus. If these are carefully considered readings, they nevertheless exude an air of spontaneity. Judicious embellishments and the occasional interpolation are added, convincingly and with taste. Kolesnikov, always eager for the deep dive, here resurfaces with rare pearls of perfect proportion and lustre from the long-picked-over beds of Chopin interpretation.
In the wake of the desperate flight of the Fantasy-Impromptu, the Waltz for Maria Wodzińska (Op 69 No 1) speaks with a palpably sweet nostalgia, a poignancy heightened by discreet rhythmic alterations and added passing tones. The C sharp minor Mazurka (Op 30 No 4) is shrouded in darkness, its pathos underscored in the second section by the semiquaver anticipation of the second beat, lending it a slight limp. The other C sharp minor here (Op 41 No 4), a polyphonic tapestry, unfolds in the actual maestoso Chopin indicated with a dignity that, near the end, turns terrifying. The light joyfulness of the vivace B major Mazurka (Op 63 No 1) is expressed in gay dialogue and upward-moving gestures. The expressive poise of the F minor Mazurka (Op 63 No 2) is modelled with its fragile melody held implacably aloft in a stately lento, tragic import magnified by restraint.
With the freshness and clarity of the F sharp major Impromptu, Kolesnikov delivers the natural solution for a piece that often seems enigmatic; the gossamer demisemiquavers in the final iteration are a marvel. Nothing, however, prepares us for the rhetorical acuity of the F minor Fantasy. The introduction is a true march, expressivity held in reserve. Throughout repetitions are varied in tone, articulation and affective import. The noble breadth of the central chorale allows each harmonic change its eloquent due.
Booklet notes are by the distinguished Chopin scholar Jeffrey Kallberg. Kolesnikov plays a Yamaha, his nuanced performance expertly captured by the Hyperion engineers.