What sensitive playing. How well Alan Cuckston brings out the romanticism
in this music which is often played as anaemic, dreary, wishy-washy stuff.
The opening Nocturne is beautifully captured as a melody with flowing
accompaniment, and what melodic lines there are. The second nocturne is even
more sensitive and, in this performance, has a rich beauty and the minor
key makes it more telling. It is played with great feeling and security.
In fact, the music's confidence is expertly realised. Some unexpected harmonies
distinguish the third nocturne but it has predictable cliches. The A major
nocturne is not easy to bring off and yet here it is so effortless and
mercurial. While there is a delicacy in the playing it is certainly not feeble.
As you listen to the opening of the fifth nocturne what famous piece does
it remind you of? And the opening of the sixth as well ... which is a very
elegant piece. I do admire Alan Cuckston's straightforward playing and his
exquisite cantabile style. The seventh, like number 4, also in A major,
is very difficult to bring off; the melody line is so integrated with the
accompaniment that it can easily be 'lost heard of'. There are some good
harmonies and one repeated but extraordinary phrase leading to a cadence.
The melodic line is highly decorated and florid. The eighth has a playful,
child like quality with a hint of introspection (or nostalgia) and is rooted
in E flat, probably Field's favourite key.
The E minor nocturne is a mature piece and once I heard a famous pianist
play it without its ornaments and this was a revelation and, in my view,
Nocturne no 10 has a glorious theme and doesn't it remind you of a famous
Beethoven piece? But this nocturne seem endless ... but it is beautifully
The problem with these nocturnes may be their lack of drama and contrast.
Curiously, nocturne no 11 begins with a theme similar to another famous work.
It has the charm and elegance of Mendelssohn and is a very attractive piece.
The final nocturne in this collection is in D minor and it has a few surprises
and an extraordinary phrase as does number seven.
The Rondo: Le Midi is a delight and very infectious. One or two strange
things happen on the way and watch out for the chiming clock.
The rondo from the Sonata No 1 is really a scherzo ...
mischievous and 'naughty' in flavour. You'll have to hear it to see what
This disc should primarily be investigated for the music and its excellent
execution but, on the way, you could enjoy being a detective and following
the trail I have left for you.