WORKS: Polonaises – selection; Mazurkas – selection; Fantaisie-Impromptu in C sharp minor, Op. 66 etc
PERFORMER: Anne Queffélec (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: MIR 096
This is a very French-style Chopin concept album: the excellent Anne Queffélec has built a programme around the composer’s life from his childhood – represented by his very first work, a rarely-played Polonaise that he wrote when he was seven – and following him through maturity to his final Mazurka Op. 67 No. 4.
There are more than a few Proustian hints: this is Chopin à la recherché du temps perdu, an exploration of a composer haunted all his life by memories of his homeland. Like her colleague Imogen Cooper, with whom she once recorded the Schubert piano duets, Queffélec places emphasis on subtlety, elegance, singing tone and an intimacy of spirit.
Her approach is effective in much of the programme, notably the Mazurkas, Waltzes and Nocturne, and she’s not above enjoying the humour and bounce of the E major Scherzo or the fantastical flurries of the Fantaisie-Impromptu.
My only grumble is that, if anything, she could at times let herself relax and go further; she occasionally applies rubato too tightly, and it verges on creating a sort of stop-start effect that risks holding up the emotional flow, as in parts of the Fourth Ballade. Jessica Duchen