This predominantly Chopin collection played by young pianist Nima
Sarkechik also includes a recently commissioned score by Hugues
Sarkechik resides in France and his biographical details highlight
his Iranian heritage. In 1996 he attended the Conservatoire
National de Région de Grenoble in the class of Christian
Bernard. From 2001 he studied with Georges Pludermacher and
François Frédéric Guy at the Conservatoire National Supérieur
de Musique in Paris. He was awarded the scholarship of
the Fondation Natexis-Banque Populaire, the Prix Drouet-Bourgeois
2004 and won the first prize in the 2004 International Piano
Competition of ‘Her Royal Highness Princess Lalla Meryem’ in
Chopin composed his first set of 12 Études, Op. 10
between 1829 and 1833 announcing that with these concert studies
he had developed a radical new form of piano literature. Dedicated
to Liszt and published as a set in 1833 the Op. 10 set did not
carry any descriptive titles. Chopin remained discreet about
any possible programmatic inspiration. The titles ‘Arpeggio’,
‘Tristesse’, ‘Black Key’ and ‘Revolutionary’
were appended later.
In the Études I found especially pleasing Sarkechik’s
interpretation of the Étude in
C major, Op. 10/1 with the right hand arpeggios sounding
like lapping waves. The playing of the fiendishly difficult
Étude in A minor, Op. 10/2 has a scampering character
and I was impressed by the high spirits of the inventive ‘Black
Key’ Étude in G flat major, Op. 10/5. Sarkechik
is confident with the serious and nervous temperament of the
Étude in E flat minor, Op. 10/6.
With the repeated notes and arpeggios of the tempestuous
Étude in F minor, Op. 10/9 the soloist communicates a
mood of poised seriousness. Interpreted with assurance the strong
feel of the parlour expressed by the Étude in A flat major,
Op. 10/10 does not reflect its technical difficulties. The final
work of the set is the appropriately titled ‘Revolutionary’
Étude in C minor, Op. 10/12. Chopin was inspired to write
the C minor piece by the invasion of Warsaw by the Russian
army and Sarkechik impresses
with a fluid reading of considerable vitality.
Sarkechik is up against extremely strong competition. There
are magnificent sets from Murray Perahia on Sony Classical and Maurizio Pollini on Deutsche
Grammophon that rank amongst their finest recordings. In
the complete Études Perahia is highly compelling,
displaying remarkable pianism with a broad expressive range.
The digital sound on Perahia’s Sony recording benefits from
outstanding presence and clarity. Pollini’s magisterial accounts are brilliantly
characterised totally engaging the listener. I found the admirable
analogue sonics for Pollini on Deutsche Grammophon of high quality
being especially cool and clear - see recording details of the
Études notes below.
Four Ballades, composed 1835-43 are cornerstones of the
piano repertoire and mark Chopin’s maturity as a composer. He
invented the Ballade form, containing music of a highly
illustrative quality and communicating a wide variety of feelings
and emotions yet able to stand alone as masterful pure music.
The Ballade No. 1 is accorded a broad tonal palette
that especially evoked feelings of passion, energy, tenderness
and enthusiasm. Sarkechik’s playing
of the Ballade No. 2 splendidly contrasts feather-light
beauty with tempestuous energy. In the Ballade No. 3 the
soloist evokes the innocence and security of an infant’s nursery
contrasted with a temperamental splendour. In this interpretation
of the Ballade No. 4 Sarkechik varies
the mood from a dance-like quality to that of irresistible introspection.
of Chopin’s Four Ballades are plentiful in the catalogues
and there are several rival versions of exceptional quality.
My longstanding benchmark is the magnificent cycle from Arthur
Rubinstein that he made in 1959 at New York City. Rubinstein’s
interpretations are truly magical and it is difficult to imagine
hearing playing of these scores containing more poetry and expression.
Murray Perahia greatly excels in Chopin’s Four Ballades
which he recorded in 1994 in Switzerland for Sony Classical.
I admire his expansive lyricism that combines power with sensitivity
in what is arguably the finest recital that Perahia recorded.
In the Ballades I also hold a high regard for
Pollini’s 1999 Munich performances
of passion, vitality and drama for
Deutsche Grammophon - see recording details of the Ballades
in the notes below.
composer Hugues Dufourt was commissioned to write his single
movement piano score La ligne gravissant la chute - Hommage
à Chopin by the Printemps des Arts de Monte Carlo. The score
was due to be premièred as part of a Chopin programme in April
2008 titled La nuit du piano (Night of piano)
with recital performances from Caroline Sageman, Alexandre
Tharaud and Nima Sarkechik at the Salle Empire, Monte Carlo.
It seems that at the Salle Empire recital Sarkechik played the
same programme as that contained on this disc.
Sarkechik impresses in this programme of Chopin and Dufourt for
Zig Zag Territoires but in the Chopin the competition from the
established names is fierce. Sarkechik shows considerable potential
and is certainly name to listen out for. He joins Simon Trpčeski
and Ingrid Fliter as talented young Chopin interpreters carving
out promising reputations for themselves. This is a well performed
and splendidly recorded disc; pity about spelling Nima Sarkechik’s
name incorrectly throughout the booklet.
Chopin, 12 Études, Op. 10 and 12 Études,
a) Murray Perahia recorded 12 Études,
Op. 10 and 12 Études,
Op. 25 in 2001 in London for Sony
Classical SK 61885.
b) Maurizio Pollini recorded 12 Études,
Op. 10 and 12 Études, Op. 25 in 1972 at Munich for Deutsche Grammophon 413 794-2.
Chopin, 4 Ballades:
a) Arthur Rubinstein recorded 4 Ballades in 1959
at New York City for RCA Victor Red Seal Living Stereo SACD 82876-61396-2
RE1 (c/w 4 Scherzos).
Also on RCA Victor Red Seal 09026 63045-2 (c/w 4 Scherzos
b) Murray Perahia recorded 4 Ballades
in 1994 in Switzerland for Sony Classical SK 64399 (c/w selection
of Nocturnes; Etudes; Mazurkas etc).
c) Maurizio Pollini recorded 4 Ballades
in 1999 at Munich for Deutsche Grammophon
289 459 683-2 (Prelude, Op. 45 and Fantaisie, Op.