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Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Piano Sonata No. 3 in B minor, Op. 58 (1844) [24:19]
Piano Sonata No. 2 in B flat minor, Op. 35 (1839) [24:34]
Piano Sonata No. 1 in C minor, Op. 4 (1828) [30:16]
Eugéne Mursky (piano)
rec. Großer Sendesaal, NDR Hanover, Germany, 27-28 September 2011
PROFIL EDITION GÜNTER HÄNSSLER PH04074 [79:16]

Born in 1975 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan in the former USSR Eugéne Mursky has been confidently making a name for himself on the international stage. Mursky was commissioned by Hänssler to record the complete piano works of Chopin in commemoration of the composer’s 200th birthday in 2010. He is now up to volume 9 in the series. The cool and vividly clear sound quality shows Mursky to his best advantage.
 
Chopin was an eighteen year old student in 1828 when he completed his first sonata. Despite its early opus number the sonata wasn’t published until two years after his death. Mursky is at one with the demands of the wild and unruly opening and captures the mood with light and graceful playing in the Menuetto. In the Larghetto we hear a tear stained affection but there’s exhilaration in the headstrong Finale.
 
Written largely in 1839 in Nohant, France the Piano Sonata No. 2 is a repertoire staple. Justly famous, the Marche funèbre was actually composed a couple of years earlier in 1837. There’s palpable conviction and dazzling playing from Mursky in the opening movement. The virtuosity required for the Scherzo feels effortless and the affectionate central section is most satisfyingly rendered. Mursky is authoritative with his moving and marvellously phrased Marche funèbre and deftly exhilarating in the very brief Finale; Presto.
 
The Piano Sonata No. 3 was written in 1844 after Chopin had settled in Paris. Although one of the greatest sonatas this score tends to lie in the shadow of the B flat minor Sonata. Chopin’s writing certainly makes significant demands. In the lengthy opening Allegro maestoso Mursky communicates intimacy through lightness of touch and fluid phrasing. A bold yet impressively controlled Scherzo is followed by an effortless Largo of consummate delicacy. In the Finale: Presto ma non tanto playing of unerring conviction creates a stunning effect.
 
There are relatively few recordings of the First Piano Sonata in the catalogue compared to the numerous accounts of the Second and Third. I greatly admire the latter twofrom Arthur Rubinstein on RCA Red Seal 09026-63046-2 and Maurizio Pollini on Deutsche Grammophon 415 346-2. Rubinstein made his recordings in 1961 at the Manhattan Centre, New York City. Pollini recorded the scores in 1984 at the Herkulessaal, Munich a favourite venue of his for making studio recordings. His assured playing is distinguished by masterful musicianship. 

I loved every minute of this outstanding release with Mursky providing accounts that can stand comparison with the finest. Clearly born to play Chopin he is in quite remarkable form.
 
Michael Cookson



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