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