> CHOPIN volume 1 Felipe Browne []: Classical CD Reviews- Oct 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Frederic CHOPIN (1810-1849) – Piano Works, Volume 1.

Ballade op.23 no.1 in G minor (1831)
Ballade op.38in no.2 in F major (1936)
Ballade op.47 no.3 in Ab major (1841)
Ballade op.52 no.4 in F minor (1842)
Fantaisie op.49 in F minor (1841)
Fantaisie-Impromptu op.66 in C# minor (1835)
Etude op.10 no.12 in C minor (1832)
Etude op.25 no.1 in Ab major (1832)
Prelude op.28 no.24 in D minor (1836)
Nocturne op.48 no.1 in C minor (1841)

Felipe Browne, piano
Recorded St.Bartholomew’s Church, Brighton, September 2001
CLAUDIO CR5149-2 [61:21]


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Felipe Browne is a young Chilean pianist, who studied in Israel before moving to London to learn with Peter Feuchtwanger. He has produced here a well-balanced programme of Chopin. When reviewing the recent Brilliant Classics issue of Chopin piano music, I mentioned that a small drawback for me was the grouping together of large numbers of the same type of work on each CD. Of course, that works better for some genres than others; Chopin almost certainly intended his Preludes, for example, to be heard in groups, maybe even as a whole set - the key relationships and sequence of mood and atmosphere indicate this. On the other hand, lighter works – Waltzes, Mazurkas, even Nocturnes – are harder to take in this way.

Browne avoids this pitfall in this issue by following a number of larger-scale pieces with some shorter ones. We have the four great Ballades, the F minor Fantasy and the ever popular Fantaisie-Impromptu; then two Etudes, a Prelude and a Nocturne. He is a thoughtful, musical player, not prone to sensationalising the music, but fully aware of its moods and drama. He gives controlled and finely judged performances of the Ballades and Impromptus, and characterises the shorter pieces with great intensity. The splendid D minor Prelude is given a particularly commanding and powerful reading, and the pensive C minor Nocturne makes an impressive ending to the collection.

This is not playing that is going to knock you back in your chair – perhaps just as well – but there is plenty here to admire and enjoy. Browne knows and loves this music, and is able to communicate his feeling for it strongly. However, I do feel that the recording lets him down somewhat in this first volume. It is somewhat lacking in brilliance throughout, and there is an occasional problem with distortion – either that, or something is actually rattling in or on the piano, it’s hard to tell for sure. Those readers who play the piano will know how infuriatingly difficult it can be to track down the source of unwanted vibration, but recording producers simply must do so, and track 8, the lovely Ab Etude, is badly affected.

If glitches like this can be sorted out for the remaining volumes, and I’m sure they can be, it looks as if Claudio records have initiated a welcome and most worthwhile addition to the rapidly growing Chopin discography.

Gwyn Parry-Jones

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