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Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849)
The Complete Chopin Piano Works, Volume 8

Fantasy for piano in F minor/A flat major, Op. 49
Berceuse for piano in D flat major, Op. 57
Barcarolle for piano in F sharp major, Op. 60
Bolero for piano in C major/A major, Op. 19
Tarantelle for piano in A flat major, Op. 43
Prelude for piano in C sharp minor, Op. 45
Allegro de concert for piano in A major, Op. 46
March funebre in C minor Op.72 No.2
Ecossaise for piano No. 1 in D major, Op. 72/3
Ecossaise for piano No. 2 in G major, Op. 72/3
Ecossaise for piano No. 3 in D flat major, Op. 72/3
Variations for piano in A major "Souvenir de Paganini," KK IVa/10 (spurious)
Contredanse for piano in G flat major (spurious), KK Anh.Ia/4
Moderato for piano in E major, KK IVb/12Cantabile for piano in B flat major, KK IVb/6 [Feuille d’album in E major]
Largo for piano in E flat major, KK IVb/5
Fugue for piano in A minor, KK IVc/2
Garrick Ohlsson (piano)
Recorded in 1995 at the Recital Hall in the Performing Arts Centre, Purchase College, State University of New York
ARABESQUE Z6686 [76.32]

Ohlsson’s comprehensive Chopin survey took place over a number of years and was, in my admittedly limited experience of it, unfailingly well recorded by Arabesque. Certainly this issue is recorded in a warm and sympathetic acoustic. But, as in his recording of the Nocturnes, Ohlsson demonstrates a very particular approach to tempi and to the dictates of architecture that will clearly not appeal to all. He has always been a technically formidable player and there are many moments here of exceptionally pliant and beautiful touch. He’s a big man, physically, but he’s capable of considerable delicacy and nuance as he shows in the Berceuse. But this same piece also shows the puzzling attitude to tempo that stalks this disc, with a tempo distended to an extent that it can’t adequately bear the weight of such delicacy as is undoubtedly there.

In a similar vein though there is some fine declamatory playing (arguably too fast in places) in the F minor Fantasy it loses direction through an over indulged lack of momentum. The Barcarolle is attractively voiced but cool – even, I have to say, just a bit bluff. Elsewhere things are less ambiguously problematic. His C sharp Prelude is fine, the Allegro de concert (from the projected Concerto) bold and full of drama. In the main he is better in lesser works. If that sounds like a dig I can only say that the evidence here seems to support it. The chances are of course remote but it would be pertinent to see how Ohlsson tackles these works now, a decade or so after he recorded them.

Jonathan Woolf


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