Frederic CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Etudes Op. 10 (1833) [27.42]
No. 1 in C [1.52]
No. 2 in A minor [1.32]
No. 3 in E [4.35]
No. 4 in C sharp minor [2.07]
No. 5 in G flat [1.51]
No. 6 in E flat minor [3.43]
No. 7 in C [1.37]
No. 8 in F [2.34]
No. 9 in F minor [2.21]
No. 10 in A flat [2.33]
No. 11 in E flat [2.56]
No. 12 in C minor [2.41]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Fantasia in C Op. 17 (1839) [31.27]
Agustin Anievas (piano)
rec. American Academy of Arts & Letters, New York. No date supplied.
NEWPORT CLASSIC NCD60179 [58.69]
It is good to see Agustin Anievas taking the opportunity of his 75th birthday to celebrate the music of both Chopin and Schumann. The Chopin Etudes are technically very demanding as well as being poetic masterpieces and I did wonder how Anievas at 75 might rise to the challenge. Any doubts I may have had on that score were quickly dispelled with his performance of the first two etudes both of which were dispatched effortlessly. Anievas’ performance of No. 1 in particular was one of the fastest I have heard. In No. 3 Anievas conjured a lovely sonorous tone from his Fazioli and his shaping of the phrasing really brought out the poetry of the music without being mawkish or sentimental. With etude No. 4, Anievas reminded us once again of his virtuoso credentials, while the ‘black keys study’ was light and sprightly with the right hand figurations beautifully shaped. In the chromatic sixth etude, Anievas’s rubato was beautifully judged and he seemed to find the sense of yearning and sadness at the heart of the piece.
I was struck increasingly by Anievas’s characterisation of the individual etudes as well as by his considerable technical abilities. The seventh double-note study was feathery light and had great charm and rhythmic sprightliness. The F minor left hand study had all the right ingredients of brooding melancholy, wistfulness and passionate yearning. The A flat study was exquisitely phrased and the modulations were played gracefully and sensitively - really quite wonderful playing. The ‘Revolutionary’ study had the necessary searing intensity and passion. This recording clearly showed someone who has lived with this pieces for a long time and who has thought deeply about them.
Anievas wrote in the programme notes that: “The Fantasia of Schumann has only recently become part of my repertoire, but a large part of my life”. It is fortunate that he has decided to turn to this piece as this is really quite an extraordinary recording. The first movement in the wrong hands can sound episodic and incoherent but Anievas allows the music to unfold gradually in a seamless and natural way that sounds just right. The kaleidoscope of colour and texture, the emotional range and the flights of fancy are all captured wonderfully well: this is music which he clearly connects to in an emotionally direct way and it shows.
The complex dotted and cross-rhythms in the second movement march were handled with ease while the technically demanding leaps at the end of the movement were played with real virtuoso aplomb. In the final slow movement, Anievas once again allow the music to unfold in a seamless and natural way, and his playing has the necessary lyricism and dreaminess that one looks for in this music but again without being sentimental.
Lyricism and dreaminess without sentimentality.