Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Luiz de Moura Castro (piano)
rec. 1998-1999, Digital Arts Studio, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Private release [61:06 + 59:21]
A certain type of listener will love Luiz de Moura Castro’s Chopin nocturnes. These are slow, ultra-romantic readings, where the pianist pauses to smell the roses and tugs certain notes out to heavenly lengths. Beauty is everything. The pianist finds a surprising number of levels of soft playing, so that nothing is monotonous. One of the nocturnes stretches out to nearly ten minutes.
Some of the slow timings will give you an idea (with Arthur Rubinstein’s 1949-50 cycle in parentheses for comparison):
There’s no doubt that Luiz de Moura Castro succeeds at what he does. He’s making a choice to deliver this slow, sighing, achingly pretty Chopin, and he has the pianism and poetic touch to succeed. He never grows boring, or becomes too extreme. In other words, he’s very good at this.
So it’s up to you. How do you like Chopin’s nocturnes? Do you see Chopin as a classicist, and grow tired of pianists using his works as a chance to indulge? Try Rubinstein instead, or Michele Boegner on period instruments. If you love the Chopin nocturnes as an ultra-expressive romantic vehicle for the pianist, and if you were raised on artists like Maria João Pires and Michel Block, then you’re going to love this beautiful, lovingly played collection.
Please note that Castro did not record Nocturnes Nos. 10 (Op. 32 No. 2) or 21 (Op. posth.).