Dashing, lyrical etudes, even if the fire is absent,
This review is from: Chopin: Etudes (Audio CD)
I don't think I know of any other pianist who can play with as much lightness of tone as Murray Perahia. His God-given talent enables him to makes it sound as if though his music is floating. In addition, he has a technique that enables him to run technical passages with such fluency that it can sound almost like a breeze of notes. But, like all musicians, there are some things that don't come easily for Perahia. Perahia's challenge is delivering heroic grandeur, something that one should want in these etudes. In the etudes that require punch and heavy drama, Perahia will inevitably sound as if though his limits are being pushed. The form in which this comes is often a harshness of tone that almost seems to belie his gift of sensitivity. I guess none of us are perfect. So, my complaint with this album is its lack of any kind of fire, anything intense. In such etudes as the "Revolutionary", there is not much revolution to boot. I would love to go away with renewed passion after listening to such ground-breaking works, but I just don't get it here.
But perhaps I'm being a bit unfair to a pianist who had just recovered from a serious hand injury. This isn't playing that fails to arouse any kind of emotion. I'm actually surprised how flawlessly strong his technique is; his hand injury hasn't caused any kind of technical setbacks. And while this disc lacks throbbing excitement, it is full of hair-rising virtuosic playing--playing that pulls out lots of detail. Some of the etudes are more suited to this approach than others; Perahia's approach seems to work the best with the 5th etude, the "Black Key". The sheer thrill of hearing these etudes played with such ease makes this CD worth the listen.
So, despite its setbacks, this is a fine album. It just doesn't stand up near the top of the list of Perahia's achievements, a pianist who elsewhere sends me into raves.