Chopin Nocturnes; Ballades; Berceuse
Louis Lortie’s second volume in his Chopin cycle for Chandos presents an understated view of the composer, yet one that is fully cultivated and always convincing. Lortie signals his approach to the entire programme by opening with one of Chopin’s least florid Nocturnes, Op. 15 No. 3 in G minor, with its simple unadorned chorale in the central section.
The main focus of this disc is the four Ballades. Just as he did with the Scherzos on his previous album, Lortie prefaces each of these big works with a Nocturne in a related key – his programming inspired, he says, by the old-fashioned tradition of pianists getting their audiences ‘in the mood’. His second track is the Ballade in G minor, and even this sounds quite introverted, and as if the music is making up its story as it goes along. Not that Lortie is afraid of big expression, or lacking in virtuosity: his elegant playing always gets to the heart of the matter.
This approach also makes some of the Nocturnes sound like mini-Ballades, but further variety is supplied in delicately focused performances of the Berceuse and Barcarolle. Though few of the interpretations are exceptional in their own right, they add up to a highly satisfying recital.