From the standpoint of repertoire, this collection of early
works by Chopin fulfils a valuable function. The four Rondos
plus the 'other' sonata (No. 1 in C minor) actually make for
a musically satisfying hour of listening away from more familiar
works by this composer.
This music requires a committed champion, and the Polish pianist
Joanna Trzeciak exudes a youthful enthusiasm. By the time this
disc was released (it was recorded in 1992), she had already
released a disc of Szymanowski piano music on the same label
(ADW7219). She has a light touch which is entirely appropriate
to early Chopin and plays with fluency born of a clear vision
of the processes of this music. Technically, Trzeciak is sound,
only showing signs of strain in the clumsy repeated notes of
the Op. 5 Rondo ('à la Mazur') and possibly not taking
the finale of the Sonata at a true Presto (although her chosen
tempo allows plenty of detail to come through which might otherwise
have been glossed over).
There is certainly a compositional fluency to the Rondos, Opp.
1, 5, 16 and 73. Despite its later opus number, the C major
Rondo, Op. 73 was written in 1829. It exists in two versions,
one for two pianos and the one played here, for solo piano.
As Trzeciak points out in her notes, this piece is 'very demanding
of pianists' and in the event she acquits herself well, the
opening flourishes announcing a boldness of intention (Sample
<1>). Moreover, she highlights the inherent sense of longing
within the music to good effect. In all of the Rondos she conveys
the spirit of Polish dance which lies at the heart of these
The Piano Sonata No. 1 in C minor, Op. 4 is given a thought-provoking
performance. The opening hardly sounds as if it is from a Sonata,
instead conveying a spirit of spontaneous improvisation. However,
this is not to imply that this is a thoughtless rendition, for
textures are consistently clear and it is obvious that much
thought has gone into the delineation of Chopin's voice-leading.
There are many commendable aspects to this performance; not
least the charmingly spiky second movement (Menuetto) (Sample
<2>) or the gently rocking left hand supporting the far
freer right in the Larghetto (Sample <3>).
Much to commend here, therefore. If only Pavane's presentation
was more inspiring. Trzeciak's own insert notes are informative,
but clumsily translated. On the subject of care in one's product,
Chopin's C major Rondo, Op. 73 dates from 1828, not 1928 as
the information on the back of the casing would have us believe.