Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849)
The Complete Works Volume 3: Musical Genius
Variations on Là ci darem la mano in B flat major, Op.2 (original version) (1827-28) [16:56]
Con bravura – excised variation from the above work (1827-28) [1:02]
Fantasia on Polish National Airs in A major Op.13 (1828-29) [14:37]
Rondo in C major Op.73, two-piano version (1828) [10:19] ¹
Krakowiak, Grand rondeau de concert in F major Op.14 (1828) [14:38]
Andante Spianato and Grande polonaise brillante Op.22 (1830-35) [13:57]
Sinfonia Varsovia/Ian Hobson (piano and conductor)
Claude Hobson (piano) ¹
rec. January 2009, Studio Si, Polish Radio
ZEPHYR Z134-09 [71:47]
The third volume in Ian Hobson’s extensive Chopin series – indeed, the Complete Works – focuses on large scale compositions for piano and orchestra and adds the two-piano version of the Rondo in C major Op.73. The result is a convincingly large-scale sweep, though predicated on more showy lines.
The Variations on Là ci darem la mano were completed in the year in which most of the other works here were finalised, 1828. This well known show-stopper certainly shows off the soloist’s agile technique whilst also affording moments for rumination. Thus the slow introductory piano paragraphs are suffused with decorative roulades and a rather introspective character. It is as if the soloist has to be goaded by the orchestra, which throws out tempting hints of Mozart’s theme, to engage with his material. Decoration of the melody is the piano’s preferred course, until even he starts hinting at the theme in his left hand and then finally succumbs to the allure. The subsequent variations are unfolded with wit and fine tone from Hobson, and with a deal of elegant panache. As a bonus he plays a variation discarded by Chopin, full of contrary motion arpeggios. It wasn’t published until 1961.
Begun in the same year but not finished until 1829 the Fantasia on Polish National Airs in A major is another biggish concertante work. One notes the fine wind playing of Sinfonia Varsovia – not least the clarinet principal – and the very vocalised themes. The introduction of the Krakowiak rhythm begins a steady building up of the energy level. The Rondo in C major is an extrovert and rather vapid piece expertly played by the two Hobsons. Much more interesting is the Krakowiak, Grand rondeau de concert, with its very unusual and arresting opening. Short-breathed orchestral lines support the piano’s right hand tracery to splendid timbral and colouristic effect. Soon, though, this novelty is swept aside by the folk rhythms that course through the remainder of the work. It’s lively and enjoyable, albeit a touch cosmopolitan. Then we have surely the best known of the works in this disc, the Andante Spianato and Grande polonaise brillante, which receives a performance of poetry and also technical accomplishment.
Those wanting a collection of these (almost wholly) piano and orchestral works will find Hobson, soloist and conductor, a learned and buoyant guide.
Those wanting a collection of these piano and orchestral works will find Hobson, soloist and conductor, a learned and buoyant guide.