Chopin: Nocturnes

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Chopin
LABELS: EMI
WORKS: Nocturnes
PERFORMER: Maria Tipo (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CDS 5 55073 2 DDD
It’s satisfying to know you’ve got Chopin’s complete Nocturnes, but what sort of person actually wants to listen to more than two or three in a row? It also seems a good idea to choose different pianists for certain pieces according to their merits. Chopin’s invention in the 21 Nocturnes is richly varied, and it’s remarkable how he never seems merely to free-wheel with a proven formula. One pianist is unlikely, perhaps, to match him with a corresponding range of imagination.

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Maria Tipo gets off to a bad start on the first disc. In the central chorale-like section of the very first Nocturne she arranges the rhythm inexplicably, so that she sounds like a student tentatively trying out a keyboard harmony exercise. She keeps stalling, too, in the second and third Nocturnes. Yet there are some nice things later on; she effectively captures a choked, muted quality in No. 15 and does the fading end of the following Nocturne beautifully.

The recording is inappropriately resonant, suggesting a very public sense of space which does not draw you into the music’s intimate secrets or create a dreamy frame of mind.

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The most recent complete recording of the Nocturnes was by Kathryn Stott, but the best is Peter Katin’s on Olympia. Katin gives you a sense of melancholy and intimacy with authentically classical poise. His set also includes Chopin’s four Impromptus. Adrian Jack