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Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849)
David Wilde Plays Chopin - Vol. III
David Wilde (piano)
rec. 2013-15, Reid Concert Hall, University of Edinburgh, Scotland
DELPHIAN DCD34159 [64:36]

David Wilde continues to perform the most personal Chopin of any living pianist. “Personal” is a word which here means “in a style like no-one else”. After the death of his wife Jane, Wilde turned to Chopin to express his grief, in a recital (Wilde Plays Chopin Vol. II) which I described as “the most intense, idiosyncratic, personal Chopin recital to be recorded in years … a devastating document.” This follow-up begins just where the last volume left off. It is just as bold, just as daring and it is strongly influenced by the emotional stage of its performer’s life.

Wilde declares what he is about on the first track, the nocturne in C minor, Op. 48 No. 1. This is generally considered the most tragic of Chopin’s nocturnes, and it’s also my favourite. David Wilde’s performance is slow, heavy, funereal and filled with long pauses. It builds to a tremendous dark power, undeniably awe-inspiring. This nocturne clocks in at 8:17. I have scoured the nearly one hundred performances available on Naxos Music Library: Wilde’s is the slowest of all. It may well be the slowest ever recorded. Only Garrick Ohlsson, on Hyperion, comes close. Both are great performances.

Wilde offers us the savage Polonaise in F sharp minor, Op. 44, a warlike performance which almost never relents in its attack. Then we move immediately to the wallowing of a long, elegiac waltz in A minor. His performance of the famous Etude Op. 10 No. 3 is slow enough that its consoling, healing melody is infused with melancholy.

There are moments of light in this album, however. Also there are more major-key works than last time, perhaps as the pianist continues to recover from his grief. Wilde now gives us the “Minute” Waltz and the short, jolly Ecossaises. The “Military” polonaise, with the occasional grandly sweeping arpeggiated chord, is mostly presented at maximum volume and maximum swagger. Wilde seems more at home in the sunny, consoling trio of Scherzo No. 2 than in the stormy outer sections.

Maybe I am wrong to interpret these Chopin recitals as a personal diary of the stages of David Wilde’s grief. In any event, listening to them feels almost intrusive, so personal and so intimate are they. Although the sound quality is not perfectly state-of-the-art, I have to urge any Chopin enthusiast to listen to this. There is nothing else like it.

Brian Reinhart

Track listing
Nocturne in C minor, Op. 48 No. 1 [8:17]
Etude in E, Op. 10 No. 3 [4:32]
Waltz in C sharp minor, Op. 64 No. 2 [4:08]
Waltz in D flat, Op. 64 No. 1, “Minute” [1:50]
Scherzo No. 2 in B flat minor, Op. 31 [10:31]
Polonaise in F sharp minor, Op. 44 [11:55]
Valse in A minor, Op. 34 No. 2 [5:59]
Mazurka in B flat, Op. 7 No. 1 [2:33]
Mazurka in A minor, Op. 7 No. 2 [3:36]
Three Ecossaises, Op. 72 No. 3 [2:40]
Polonaise in A, Op. 40 No. 1, “Military” [5:01]
Valse in A flat, Op. 69 No. 1 [3:33]


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