Chopin: Piano Sonata No. 2 Op. 35 & 4 Scherzos CD
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I needn't detain you long: this is the kind of Chopin recital that informs and refreshes. From the weighty opening chords of Chopin's Second Sonata, Simon Trpceski strikes a balance between detailed analysis, instinctive reaction and sweeping romanticism that's deeply satisfying.
He can produce a huge, rich sound and introduce tempo adjustments and rubato in ways and at times that could prove disruptive, and yet his musical intelligence and confidence are such that he gets away with it, and you're carried along with his exuberance. The rapid repeated chords of the Sonata's second movement are attacked ferociously, then the huge resonance Trpceski's produced melts into the warmest, gentlest cradle-song of a melody you could imagine. The third movement is that famous funeral march, not taken too slowly, and beginning with an intimate subjectivity, before the more public mourning and posturing. The frantically compressed moto perpetuo finale has a nightmarish quality to it!which is then picked up in the opening of the first of Chopin's 4 Scherzos; not much to joke about here. And again it's Trpceski's willingness to surrender himself to the moment that's so impressive in the Scherzi; there's a genuine feeling of spontaneity about these performances, yet he's still able to bring out little details and emphasise lines you might not have noticed before.
Personality in spades, yes, but there's also integrity, and that really matters. You get the feeling that Trpceski really identifies with this composer-pianist, more so than in his Rachmaninov recital for EMI, where just occasionally the gestures felt overblown. Here there's appropriate flamboyance alongside emotional honesty, and if you want to know what I mean, sample the opening of the Scherzo No. 2. Trpceski's been given a better recording for his Chopin as well, absolutely mirroring the playing: intimate, but with room to take the grandest sonorities. Sheer delight from end to end.
This recording is Disc Of The Week on Radio 3's CD Review --Andrew McGregor
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
He doesn't need to follow any 'established school' - he has a huge reserve of technique to burn, and a wonderfully original musicality and sets him apart from ALL other young emerging pianists.
His Sonata No. 2 is very exciting. The contrasts in mood are being brought to almost an extreme, made possible by his superlative prowess. If Ivo Pogorelich was once hailed as the 'original' Chopin interpretor, one would need to listen to Trpceski to savour more fully the meaning of this word. There is simply not a single bar of Trpceski's Chopin that's not original.
The 4 Scherzi come in further direct comparison with Pogo's. For a young and imaginative soul's outpouring, Trpceski's strikes one as being more naturalistically ardent.
I have been dying to hear some more of this pianist's Chopin, but in reality, he is a very much all-round interpretor, equally adept in Rachmaninoff and Debussy.
Time will come when this pianist swamp the top concert halls.
Chopin knew Italian well and his markings are to be respected. The "Grave" becomes the only place to establish the tempo of the entire movement. Unlike Rubenstein, Argerich and Perlemuter to name a few, who produce a precise Grave in the opening four bars, Trpceski chooses his own tempo which pushes these precious bars instead of allowing them to unfold gently, with an element of spacing. As a result the following "Doppio movimento", 'double the speed', literally takes off at such a clip, it becomes difficult to follow the rhythmic uniformity. Trpceski also plays with a forced tone and a restricted dynamic scope making the forte-piano contrasts less dramatic.
Once Trpceski reaches the second subject 'sostenuto', he suddenly becomes extremely poetic, imaginative and considerably musical. He allows the long phrases to unfold gently with an immaculate touch and subtle range of color.
Technically the scherzo makes greater demands than anything else in the sonata. Here, Trpceski projects most successfully. The end of the movement shows a keen dramatic sense and awareness of continuity in its preparation for the funeral march.
Once he begins the slow movement, the grief Motif is responsive to the darkness of the somber character. In the Trio theme, Trpceski produces a magnificent warmth of sonority with fluid long phrases. He makes effective use of pedal coloring, agogics, rubato and texture of sound. The phrase line has the needed cohesion and motion to prevent stalling.
The finale, on the other hand, is marked 'presto', as well as the clearly marked 'sotto voce e legato'. It indeed should be played fast, but Trpceski always conveys a wealth of harmonic subtlety throughout. He produces a wealth of detail and technical skill that is satisfying even when played at half speed. Despite the moments of questionable approach, Trpceski brings this masterpiece to its close with a style that is considerably striking.
The basic form of a Scherzo, is that of the minuet and trio. The more expanded the piece becomes, and the weightier the material it sets up, the greater, usually, is the contrast which seems to be demanded. Chopin pays attention to these considerations throughout the four. Trpceski however, once again pays more attention to breathtaking speed causing the musical aspects to suffer. His accents are harsh and overly attacked, and when rests occur he clips the last note with such force that he changes the location of the beat which distorts the rhythm. Yet, when playing the trio sections, Trpceski once again proves his ability to convey playing that is imaginative and full of character. Long phrases are memorably resourceful, varied and involving. With his sensitive touch and range of color, he draws every ounce of poetry from the section.
The overall playing needs to become more within character concerning choices of tempo, touch and dynamic range. Trpceski must give greater consideration to Chopin's intentions and the quality of sound he desired the most. Harsh attacks and forcing the tone are specific areas that artistic maturity will correct in playing that has already proved Trpceski to be one of the major upcoming pianists.
Author: Raymond Vacchino M.Mus. Classical Music Critic
Having said that, this CD brings out it's own unique flavor to the classical music world. Every pianist is allowed to express themselves in their own unique way, just like artists are allowed to paint whatever they like and everyone still calls it art!
Think of a piano piece as a painting, composed with the added element of time. It is flowing, never the same and always unique, that's what makes every recording of it so different and special, but the fundamental elements in the core of the piece remains the same.
Simon Trpceski is technically flawless in piano playing. The speed and skill at which he handles these pieces, which are not easy by the way, is amazing and you just wonder how he gets his 10 fingers to fly around the keyboard like that.
However, I did feel that the Sonata was played a little faster than usual in the beginning, but it was compensated for with varying speeds and interesting changes in tone throughout all 4 movements.
The Scherzi were incredible, No.2 and 3 just blew my mind away with the way he managed to contrast the colors in each of the different sections, AND fly all over the place with those running passages, how is that humanly possible? Chopin's 4 Scherzi were always dark and very dramatic, never meant as jokes and I think Simon has managed to pull it off marvelously.
Chopin was too weak to play all his loud (FF to FFF) sections, so he compensated for it by feeling it. He couldn't possibly handle the speed at which the Sonata or Scherzi were played at in this CD, but I'm sure he would be very happy with the results.
There is nothing new in these readings, which makes the CD redundant. The Finale of the great b-flat minor Sonata reminds a Czerny Etude rather than a dry sand storm over the graves. And the Scherzi, while technically assured, bring no musical revelation or innovation. Most of it is simply too loud and fast, and the passage work sounds more like Liszt rather than Chopin. There is little elegance and grace in these performances. Just hear the best recordings of the Sonata and Scherzi and compare. Unfortunately, this EMI release does not stand much of a chance.