Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Andante Spianato et Grande polonaise brillante Op.22 [13:07]
Ballade in G minor Op.22 [8:32]
Nocturne No.2 in D flat major Op.27 [5:22]
Scherzo in B flat minor Op.31 [9:40]
Mazurkas; G minor [2:00]; C major [2:10]: A flat major [1:20]: A minor [3:39]
Piano Sonata in B minor Op.58 [24:58]
Martin Kasík (piano)
rec. December 2001, Lichtenstein Palace, Prague
ARCO DIVA UP 0048-2 131 [71:02]
This recital was taped back in 2001 and released the following year, though I can find no trace of much reference to it, other than merely the noting of its existence. Even the pianist’s website doesn’t fanfare it, noting – at last inspection – that the booklet was ‘in preparation’. So, I’ve no real idea what lies behind the tardy-seeming nature of its appearance, or whether it’s been given a second shove to send it on its way.
Which is a pity, as Kasík is an excellent Chopinist. Born in 1976, he won first prize in the 1998 Mariánské Lázne Chopin competition. He’s since made a number of recordings and has established a small but potent reputation, especially as an exponent of his native country’s music. But the business here is Chopin. What I like about Kasík is his unsentimental but sensitive explorations, allied to a warm romantic tone. He brings, therefore, a genuinely appealing quality to the B flat minor Scherzo – his dynamics are apt, and his phrasing is strong, rising to a passionate pitch when appropriate. His G minor Ballade is cogently held together. He doesn’t rush through passagework – well, perhaps toward the end there is a passage where he should have held back, but it’s about the only moment where he does rush unnecessarily. Moods and episodes are coalesced, and his tone is pearly.
One particularly adept performance is that of the D flat major Nocturne. His tone remains lovely, but he doesn’t sacrifice a sensible tempo to parade it. Nor does he disappoint in the B minor Sonata, where he sets up the contrasts in the Scherzo finely and where, in the finale, he brings out the narrative sense of the melodic statements with exemplary intelligence. His Mazurkas are exciting and well chosen. In fact the whole programme has been chosen with care and consideration.
With a fine recording in the Lichtenstein Place in Prague, this disc, now a decade old, shows how potent a Chopin player Kasík was. I’m sure he still is.
Jonathan Woolf
Unsentimental but sensitive, a warm romantic tone.