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A valuable insight into Chopin's final years and compositions,
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This review is from: Chopin: Recital (Audio CD)
This pair of discs, recorded in 2008, is an interesting journey into, and exploration of, Chopin's musical mind in the last few years of his life The unity of his musical language is made so much more apparent by hearing a few waltzes, mazurkas, nocturnes and two sonatas in the order of composition rather than in collections that Chopin did not envisage at the time of their composition. Ashkenazy, of course, recorded the complete Chopin works in this way but they have now been re-issued in collected sets as is more normal for the modern market.
This two disc set is therefore valuable and uniquely in those ways. In total we hear the last works from opus 58 to opus 68 but missing out opus 60 and 66. The works included are the piano sonata 3, the cello sonata, two nocturnes, nine mazurkas and the Polonaise-Fantasie. The over-riding impression gained by thus hearing the works is the lack of the brilliant display passages so essential to earlier works and their replacement by a marked degree of introspection. The music seems to be more contemplative and private. These characteristics are brought out by Pires' typically thoughtful, undemonstrative pianism which is lyrical and round-toned. Rubato is used to underpin these emotions while not so great as to destroy their cohesion.
Pavel Gomziakov was chosen by Pires for the solo cello in the sonata because of his 'dignity of style and a certain austerity in his tone that are perfectly suited to this music' and this reserve permeates the whole of these two discs.
The recording is suitably intimate in atmosphere with a good balance and believable piano timbre.
This is a distinctive and thought-provoking approach to these late works and I would suggest that, as such, they deserve to be seriously considered as a rewarding and satisfying purchase even if the contents cause inevitable doubling of material. In those instances I would also suggest that there will be the added benefit of comparison based on an alternative concept of playing the works.