Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Piano Sonata No. 2 in B flat minor (1837-39) [27:59]
Barcarolle in F sharp major Op. 60 (1845-46) [9:08]
Nocturne in C minor Op. posth. (1830?) [3:17]
Nocturne in C sharp minor Op. posth. (1830) [4:54]
Polonaise Fantasie in A flat major Op. 61 (1846) [14:12]
Daniel Levy (piano)
Daniel Levy (piano)
rec. Chiesa di San Martino (Ronco sopra Ascona) Switzerland – date of recording not given.
EDELWEISS EDEM 3375 [59:30]

Daniel Levy is a meticulous pianist totally dedicated to his art. His recordings are published under his own label, Edelweiss, allowing him artistic choice over venues, and support team. He is not afraid to depart from the norm. How many pianists, for instance, would dare to dedicate a recording to a dog? Here Levy touchingly describes how his late dog, Shanti, “a beautiful and distinguished border collie” loved Chopin’s music. Levy writes, “..’something’ preserved within Chopin’s harmonies touched him inside to the extent that it made him remain still, attentive and happy, every time I played the works of this great Polish composer... While I made this recording I felt his warmth and presence...When he used to lay under the piano or by my side, his posture revealed that he listened deeply to those essential things that, although intangible, do exist without limits. Such is the effect that Chopin has on all souls, which never ceases to amaze me.” I include this lengthy quotation because I think it clearly demonstrates Levy’s sensitivity, his humanity and his deep empathy with the music at his fingertips.

The main work in this Chopin recital is the Piano Sonata No. 2 in B flat minor. This is the sonata with that Funeral March that opens the third movement. Here Levy’s thoughtful reading seems to probe and widen its ‘message’ to feelings and significance some way beyond a melancholy march to possibly pose the universal question - ‘why?’ Chopin’s Presto Finale is delivered in whirlwind brilliance. The opening movement is powerfully authoritative in those demonstrative opening chords and there is a pressing urgency and at the same time yearning that follows before the music relaxes and that lovely melody emerges. Levy delivers a poised and eloquent reading, with a refined poetic impulse, of this passionate, stormy yet supremely lyrical music.

Chopin’s Barcarolle in F sharp minor is a sweepingly romantic piece. It’s technically demanding, the left hand having to cope with some very long reaches over an octave. Levy’s reading captures all its authority and wistfulness and he creates a finely nuanced picture of gentle and turbulent waters. Chopin’s two posthumous Nocturnes in C minor and C sharp minor seem to speak of memories recalled in moonlit tranquillity. The C sharp minor Nocturne was played in the Roman Polanski film, The Pianist. It was first published 26 years after the composer's death, its popular appellation is ‘Reminiscence’ and its directive marking is Lento con gran espressione. It begins softly, sadly and Levy lovingly communicates its haunting and dreamy qualities. The C minor Nocturne seems to recall the more tender memories. Levy is commanding and romantically sensitive in Chopin’s complex and intricate Polonaise Fantasie in A Flat. Levy’s expressive pianissimos speak volumes. This is a most heart-warming performance of this very personal and romantic piece (it was dedicated to Mme A. Veyret) with its contrastingly stronger, more extrovert outer sections.

Touching and powerful performances of some well-loved Chopin.

Ian Lace

Touching and powerful performances of some well-loved Chopin.