Chopin: Warsaw Recital

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

LABELS: Accentus Music
WORKS: The Warsaw Recital: Fantasia in F minor, Op. 49; Nocturne in D flat, Op. 27, No. 2; Sonata in B flat minor, Op. 35; Barcarolle in F sharp, Op. 60; Waltz in A minor, Op. 34, No. 2, in F, Op. 34, No. 3, in D flat, Op. 64, No. 1, in C sharp minor, Op. 64, No. 2; Berceuse in D flat, Op. 57; Polonaise in A flat, Op. 53; Mazurka in F minor, Op. 7, No. 3
PERFORMER: Daniel Barenboim (piano) (Warsaw, 2010)


Not especially celebrated for his Chopin, Daniel Barenboim has used the composer’s bicentenary as an excuse to revisit what he claims as one of his earliest musical loves. From that point of view, this Warsaw recital was a key date in his 2010 schedule, and he offers a satisfying programme that covers a range of the genres Chopin cultivated (but no Preludes, Etudes, Ballades or Scherzos).

In the most difficult works he adopts a practical approach to rubato, applying caution more out of necessity than for expression, and he makes heavy weather of some passages. His is not the most elegant Chopin style, but Barenboim is – it goes without saying – a towering musician who is worth hearing here. Indeed, this review’s stars are awarded for musicianship rather than note-perfect accuracy.


Opening with the F minor Fantasia, Barenboim is on magisterial and musically imaginative form. His almost Lisztian approach to the B flat minor Sonata is excitingly turbulent, and this is conception of the work gathers all four movements together. Satisfying accounts of the Barcarolle and Berceuse are interspersed with Waltzes, all of which go with a smile. The Polonaise in A flat is given in a performance that would hardly stand up to the scrutiny of audio-only recording but is still worth seeing on film. John Allison