Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Twenty-Four Préludes (1836-38) [27:38]
Prelude in C sharp major Op.45 (1841) [4:49]
Prelude in A flat major Op. Posth. [0:38]
Barcarolle in F sharp major Op.60 (1846) [9:01]
Fantasie in F minor Op.49 (1841) [13:10]
Vanessa Perez (piano)
rec. Patrych Sound Studios, Bronx, NY, undated [2012]
TELARC TEL-33388-02 [66:13]
This recording of the Preludes, for some reason, gets better as it goes along. It opens poorly with a deliberately obscured rhythm which imparts an unsatisfying piano roll feel to the C major. There’s little crest and fall to this kind of playing and the rubati are unconvincing. The succeeding A minor is equally awkward with point making dullness to the fore, and an avoidance of some of Chopin’s most explicit dissonances a feature too. At this point I was seriously worried that we would have a disaster on our hands, or at least on Vanessa Perez’s hands.
Things then began to look up. There’s a noble dignity to the Largo in E minor (No.4) and when one anticipates she will make too personalised a show of the corresponding slow movement in No.9 she actually proves rather restrained. Certainly one may feel that there’s a slight want of intensity in the Molto agitato in F sharp minor (No.8), and perhaps No.13 in F sharp major doesn’t sing as much as it could, and contrasts are lessened, but these are very much matters of individual taste. The Sostenuto No.15 is well done, though not overtly characterful. She drives into the Presto con fuoco of No.16 at a perfect tempo, as indeed she does with No.18 in F minor. Maybe, for all the imposing chordal playing, the Largo of No. 20 is just a touch inert, but it’s not a major concern.
So, a distinct and measurable improvement as Perez progresses through the Preludes, but still very far from a recommendation. She includes the Prelude in F sharp major and the opus posthumous A flat major and they are both played very adeptly. The bigger challenges of the Barcarolle Op. 60 are well met and the Fantasie Op.49, though shorn of overmuch refinement, is still convincing in its own terms.
Jonathan Woolf 

Very far from a recommendation.