Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Nocturne in C sharp minor, Op posth. (1830) [4:08]
Nocturne in C minor, Op posth. (1847-48) [2:49]
Nocturne in E minor, Op posth. (1827?) [4:01]
Nocturne in B flat minor, Op. 9, No. 1 (1832) [6:07]
Nocturne in E flat major, Op. 9, No. 2 (1832) [6:15]
Nocturne in B major, Op. 9, No. 3 (1832) [6:34]
Nocturne in F major, Op. 15, No. 1 (1833) [5:07]
Nocturne in F sharp major, Op. 15, No. 2 (1833) [3:44]
Nocturne in G minor, Op. 15, No. 3 (1833) [5:56]
Nocturne in C sharp minor, Op. 27, No. 1 (1836) [5:30]
Nocturne in D flat major, Op. 27, No. 2 (1836) [6:29]
Nocturne in B major, Op. 32, No. 1 (1837) [5:49]
Nocturne in A flat major, Op. 32, No. 2 (1837) [5:59]
Nocturne in G minor, Op. 37, No. 1 (1840) [7:32]
Nocturne in G major, Op. 37, No. 2 (1840) [7:09]
Nocturne in C minor, Op. 48, No. 1 (1841) [6:27]
Nocturne in F sharp minor, Op. 48, No. 2 (1841) [7:37]
Nocturne in F minor, Op. 55, No. 1 (1844) [5:07]
Nocturne in E flat major, Op. 55, No. 2 (1844) [5:14]
Nocturne in B major, Op. 62, No. 1 (1846) [8:41]
Nocturne in E major, Op. 62, No. 2 (1846) [6:15] Roger Woodward
rec. Tonstudio Ulrich Kraus, Wörthsee, Bavaria, January 2006 CELESTIAL HARMONIES
142602 [58:17 + 65:55]
This is a rather perplexing, predominantly slow set of the Nocturnes,
from Roger Woodward, doyen of the modernist muse. I’ve recently
listened to some Bach recordings of his, leisurely and withdrawn,
so it didn’t come as a complete surprise that his Chopin should
resonate with similar qualities, but the feeling of perplexity
still lingers over my listening.
I should note at
the beginning that some German critics have received these two
discs and his concert performances with the greatest admiration.
For myself however there’s a studied, almost pedagogic air to
his performances that, whilst it may lay bear harmonic or motivic
shards, manages also to inoculate the hearer against warmth
and affectionate phrasing.
He is forever fussing
self-consciously over left hand accents – see the C sharp minor
of Op.27 – and loses the pulse, as he does in its opus companion.
The B major of Op.32 lacks wit and caprice and the playing imposes
a quietude, an almost inert diffidence that is really no substitute.
The famous E flat major (Op.9) is funereal, horizontally phrased
and didactic. Similarly the F major Op.15 is unpoetic in the
extreme, Woodward managing the unlikely trick of being provocative
and monotonous simultaneously.
The lack of dance
momentum that underlay his Bach is equally evident here. There
is no sense of motion, colour or rhythmic snap in the G major
Op.37 – and almost no sense of characterisation. This remains
a besetting problem; the lack of a sense of individual character
for these pieces. He makes a decent show in the E minor Op.
posth. but by now things are long past recall.
In some ways this
set reminds me of an equally disappointing, even dispiriting
performance of the Fauré Nocturnes by the pianist Jean-Paul
Sevilla on Timpani. Sevilla sounded bored with music with which,
earlier in his career, he has been associated. This is not quite
the case here; Woodward doesn’t sound bored but he does sound
inert and whatever the pianist’s protestations to the contrary
in his published comments these are performances that fail to
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