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Tudor 1660 SACD
Symphony 3 etc.
Lyrita New Recording
Sarah Beth Briggs
|Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Nocturnes Op. 9: No 1 in B flat minor
Nocturnes Op. 9: No 2 in E flat major
Nocturnes Op. 9: No 3 in B major
Nocturnes Op. 15: No 1 in F major
Nocturnes Op. 15: No 2 in F sharp major
Nocturnes Op. 15: No 3 in G minor
Nocturnes Op. 27: No 1 in C sharp minor
Nocturnes Op. 27: No 2 in D flat major
Nocturnes Op. 32: No 1 in B major
Nocturnes Op. 32: No 2 in A flat major
Nocturnes Op. 37: No 1 in G minor
Nocturnes Op. 37: No 2 in G major
Nocturnes Op. 48: No 1 in C minor
Nocturnes Op. 48: No 2 in F sharp minor
Nocturnes Op. 55: No 1 in F minor
Nocturnes Op. 55: No 2 in E flat major
Nocturnes Op. 62: No 1 in B major
Nocturnes Op. 62: No 2 in E major
Nocturnes Op. posth.: in E minor
Nocturnes Op. posth.: in C sharp minor
Nocturnes Op. posth.: in C minor
rec. Studio S-1, Polish Radio, Warsaw, Poland, 1995.
DUX 0619/0620 [64:12
Listening to this whole
set at one sitting brought home to me the sheer diversity
that Chopin’s Nocturnes represent. Yes, the gentle, half-lit
world of the evening is there in every piece, but while
some of these evenings make us think of love and peace,
some bring to mind loneliness and anxious restlessness.
All are suffused with tremendous beauty, but that beauty
can be troubled rather than tranquil. For ease of reading,
in this review I will refer to the Nocturnes numerically
rather than by Opus number and key, as that is how they
are presented on this disc.
These performances hold
up well, though in a very competitive marketplace Bukojemska
will have to be more idiomatic than this to get herself
noticed. Her pianism is secure and safe, which is both
its blessing and its curse: a safe pair of hands (literally)
rather than someone to throw fresh light on these works.
The posthumous Nocturnes are included too for the sake
She addresses the different
tone of each work very appropriately. The ever-popular
No. 2 opens with a disarmingly simple statement of the
main theme which she then allows to unfold, by careful
use of rubato and tone, into the achingly beautiful variant
that the piece ends with. She does the same with No.
10 which is structured in the same way. She also deals
most convincingly with the timeless stillness of Nos.
7 and 8 (the great Op. 27 set) as Chopin conjures up
a world of ineffable melancholy. She misses some of the
trouble in the less restful pieces, however. No. 15 should
be genuinely unnerving while here it just sounds like
it is in a bad mood. The great C minor Nocturne (No.
13) is more successful in this respect, with a troubled
undercurrent hiding beneath a calm surface.
This CD is very obviously
a Polish product, and I suspect that Dux are a Polish
label: all of the production team for this disc are Polish
and there is an unspecified connection with Polish Radio.
The biographical note for Bukojemska also tells us that
she studied in Krakow and most of her collaborators have
been Polish. The information in the booklet is in Polish
first and then English, and the producers are clearly
very proud of Chopin as their national composer. It is
fitting, then, that Bukojemska is probably most successful
in the most Polish sounding number: the spiky No. 12
with its connotations of folk rhythms. The booklet note
has not been particularly well translated into English,
however, and the enthusiastic analysis of the Nocturnes
is very difficult to read. Presumably the Polish version
makes more sense!
So this is a fine set
if you’re starting off your exploration of the Nocturnes
and want a “standard” interpretation, but I can’t see
much future for it in light of the fierce competition
from the likes of Rubinstein, Horowitz and, perhaps most
appealingly, Maria João Pires
on DG. Barenboim and Arrau also have very appealing complete
sets at bargain price, which are a better bet than this
Gerard Hoffnung CDs
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