> CHOPIN recital Goerner [CC]: Classical CD Reviews- May2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-49)
Piano Sonata No. 3 in B minor, Op. 58
Polonaise-Fantaisie in A flat, Op. 61.
Nocturne in C minor, Op. 48 No. 1.
Scherzo No. 4 in E, Op. 54.
Barcarolle in F sharp, Op. 60.
Ballade No. 4 in F minor, Op. 52.

Nelson Goerner (piano).
Recorded in Studio No. 1, Abbey Road, London in January 1996.
EMI Debut CDZ5 69701-2 [DDD] [77’16] Superbudget


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This EMI Debut reissue provides a welcome opportunity to reappraise the Argentinian pianist Nelson Goerner. This disc is, indeed, a special achievement, especially as Goerner was a mere 28 years old at the time of recording: his youth brings with it a freshness of interpretation which sits well with Goerner’s obvious aim of penetrating to the fervent heart of Chopin.

Perhaps the essence of Goerner’s playing is his ability to give the impression of freedom without distorting Chopin’s carefully wrought structures (an aspect of Chopin’s music too often ignores, at the interpreter’s peril). Tone and voicing are carefully considered at every point: try his exquisitely voiced ascending left-hand scales in the first movement of the Sonata. His technique is such that the Scherzo both lives up to the ‘Molto vivace’ marking and is simultaneously light and fluffy as humanly possible. The Finale is where many pianists fail, and where Goerner captures the spirit better than most. Scales, for example, are never mere effect and are never used for mere effect.

The Polonaise-Fantaisie requires a different type of virtuosity. Goerner emphasises the boldness of Chopin’s opening gestures, spread over the full keyboard. He captures the spirit better than the majority of players, due in no small part to his pedal technique, which is completely subservient to the sounds his inner ear dictates. The remaining pieces, the Nocturne, Scherzo, Barcarolle and Ballade, are well balanced. There is always a temptation in the C minor Nocturne to tend to the over-theatrical and to turn it into a quasi-Ballade, a temptation Goerner thankfully resists.

Whilst there is much to admire in both the Scherzo and the fluent, fantasy-laden Fourth Ballade (where at one point, Goerner seems intent to point out a kinship with the Etude, Op. 25 No. 12), it is the Barcarolle that glistens. Why is this piece not played more often? Under Goerner’s masterly fingers, the piece works its way to its passionate climax inevitably and effectively. Strongly recommended


Colin Clarke


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