What a brilliant idea to select a lot of "hommages à Chopin" on a seperate disc for this wonderful Chopin celebration year, when recordings of Chopin's piano music are flooding the market! True is that these piano pieces are "secondary" music, compared to the original mastery of the Master himself, imitative as they are, variations on well-known Chopin themes, impersonations of his musical technique. But they certainly raise the question whether sensitive imitations couldn't be as agreeable to listen to as the original creations.
Especially when Jonathan Plowright, a superb and flamboyant pianist, has made an excellent selection, playing these pieces with all the virtuoso elegance they demand. I spontaneously felt that two pieces were really great music: Busoni's "Ten variations on a Prelude of Chopin in C minor" and Villa-Lobos's suggestive dipthych "Hommage à Chopin". Ravishing to listen to are also Federico Mompou's "Variations sur un thème de Chopin" in twelve parts and with a sort of transcendental character in Liszt's style, and Edvard Grieg's "Studie (Hommage à Chopin)". But all the chosen pieces are charming to enjoy: Balakirev's flashing "Impromptu on the Themes of Two Preludes by Chopin" and short, expressive things from modern composers like Arthur Honegger and Sir Lennox Berkeley. And many composers seldom heard nowadays turn out to be great surprises: Eduard Nápravník and Theodor Leschetizky, just to mention two of them.
A lustrous record to get pleasure from many times!