composed his twenty-four Preludes, opus 28, during the
period that he was also preparing a French edition of Johann Sebastian
Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, thus paying homage to the
master of Leipzig. Like Bach, Chopin composed a prelude in each
of the major and minor keys, and there the similarities end.
works, some of which last less than one minute, are splendid gems,
unique and original, each perfectly expressive of a specific mood
or image, and each one saying exactly what needs to be said without
a single note or gesture gone to waste. Of course, some are more
famous than others, but there is not a single page of this music
that is without merit.
there is ample opportunity for the virtuoso to showcase his or
her talents, these are on the whole delicate and simple sound
portraits, moving along gently from one to another like a well
planned and carefully selected art exhibit. Each frame catches
the mind’s eye and holds it long enough to allow the details,
the nuances and each musical stroke of the brush to be examined.
Then, as soon as the story is told, we walk along to the next
aural image to be transported to a completely different imaginary
the Preludes require no small share of technical skill, it is
in the two sets of Etudes, opp. 10 and 25, that Chopin
sets out to uniquely solve a series of technical challenges. Uniquely,
because not only do these works address the mastery of a certain
skill, they are also complete works of music within themselves,
the issues of technique cleverly disguised within splendid musical
forms and memorable melodic and harmonic gestures.
confess that before I heard this recording, Dame Moura Lympany
was known to me primarily by reputation. After a listen to this
performance, I can immediately see that I have been missing some
outstanding piano playing. If I were to choose a single word to
describe her playing, it would likely be "reflective."
Oh yes, Dame Moura can tear up the keyboard when needs be, and
her passagework is fleet, clean and resonant. But the joy of this
recital is that she uses virtuosity solely as a means of expressing
the character of the music. Nothing here is ever over the top,
and this trait goes for her slow and expressive playing as well
as the fast pages. This is extremely elegant playing, with not
a note out of place. Completely within the bounds of immaculate
taste, these recordings are a refreshing relief from the typical
contest winner types of pianists who seem to play only fast and
loud. It is abundantly clear that Ms. Lympany has definite ideas
about what she wishes to tell us through her playing, and then,
she simply invites us over for tea and tells us the story.
is a crime that the Warner Company has dismantled the Erato label,
upon which this disc originally appeared in 1995. Thankfully though,
they have the good sense to make some of the fine recordings from
the catalogue available and at a modest price. Program notes are
informative, although a biography of the pianist would have certainly
been nice. Sound quality is warm, rich and present without being
a top choice if this is your first go at these works. If you already
own them by someone else, this is worth the duplication. First
rate. Highly recommended.