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John FIELD (1782-1837)
Nocturnes 1-15
Roberte Mamou, piano
No recording date or location given
PAVANE ADW 7110-2 [64.08]

 

Experience Classicsonline

Rather as with Dowlandís Lachrymae, it makes little sense but enervating listening to listen to Fieldís Nocturnes all in one go, even (or especially) in fine performances. The Lachrymae inhabit a continually sorrowing world of D major; Field sets himself no such limitations, but frequently comes up against an inability, whatever the key, to transcend a similarly melancholy form. Alas for him, we have Chopinís example from 30 years later to show us it can be done.

That Field was a prodigious melodist there is ample demonstration: invidious to pick out a tune when they are nearly all so delightful, but the ease of no.8 gives me particular pleasure. Roberte Mamou shapes them with grace, and is particularly adept at dynamic shading within a melody to give it direction, especially towards its end.

With sensitive pedalling she is capable of conjuring an appealing, bell-like sonority, as in the conclusion to the Sixth and at the start of the Seventh: here, however, the left hand touches in the upbeat figurations rather indistinctly. And there lies my principal objection: the left hand is consistently heavy, most noticeably in those nocturnes which already have a dramatic and not merely accompanimental role, like nos.9 and 14. A fatal unevenness of accompanying figuration creeps into no.11; elsewhere rubato is applied, never grotesquely, but quite liberally.

A pedestrian trill in the coda of no.14 harshly reveals piano action at the top of the keyboard: in fact the instrument often sounds more like a fortepiano. Partly this can be attributed to Mamouís praiseworthy intentions to give Field an appropriately intimate soundworld; partly to over-close miking; and, Iím afraid, partly to Mamouís disinclination or inability to make more of her material. John OíConor and Benjamin Frith show it can be done but what is on offer here is all too often superior salon select.

No one who already has OíConorís set on Telarc will need to supplement their collection with Mamou, and for those who have yet to discover Fieldís charm, there is no reason for them to start with this disc.

Peter Quantrill

 



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