Chopin Resonances

Chopin and his followers: glittering performances of a beguiling programme

Author: 
Bryce Morrison
Chopin Resonances

'Chopin Resonances'

  • Fantaisie-impromptu
  • Miscellanea, Nocturne in B flat
  • (12) Etudes, No. 12 in D sharp minor
  • (26) Preludes, No. 14 in E flat minor
  • (27) Etudes, A flat, 'Harp Study', Op. 25/1
  • (12) Etudes, Pour les arpèges composés
  • Berceuse
  • Mazurkas (Complete), No. 6 in A minor, Op. 7/2 (1831)
  • (20) Mazurkas, No. 2, Allegramente Poco vivace
  • Mazurkas (Complete), No. 34 in C, Op. 56/2 (1843)
  • (The) Peace Piece
  • Mazurkas (Complete), No. 11 in E minor, Op. 17/2 (1832-33)
  • Nocturne No. 2
  • Makrokosmos II, Dream Images (Love-Death Music)

This is Chopin presented with a difference. For here Kevin Kenner follows a reeling path, moving effortlessly from Chopin through related composers (Scriabin, Szymanowski, etc) to Bill Evans (who I once had the rare privilege of hearing in the hallucinatory and narcotic atmosphere of a Dallas nightclub) and George Crumb. To crown everything, all the performances by this American but European-based multi-prize-winning pianist are of unwavering mastery and musicianship, with towering but never forced strength and a rubato and nuance both personal and telling. He is exceptionally glittering and stylish in Chopin’s Fantasie-Impromptu (later making a ghostly reappearance in Crumb’s Dream Images) and offers a tantalising glimpse of Balakirev’s extensive but little-recorded repertoire in his Second Nocturne, music enriched with the composer’s elegant and conversational brilliance.

One mystery remains. Kenner’s own fine essay makes no mention of a lavish arrangement of Chopin’s Mazurka, Op 7 No 2. This is sufficiently piquant and startling to raise eyebrows and I was reminded of Moiseiwitsch’s mischievous delight in teasing his audience with one delectable but unannounced encore after another. Everything is beautifully recorded on a light-toned instrument quite without alien heaviness or texture. This is a record to fascinate even the most blasé listener and I can scarcely wait to hear this superb and enterprising artist in further recordings.

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