Chopin: Piano Sonata in B minor, Op. 58; Polonaise-Fantaisie in A flat, Op. 61; Scherzo No. 3 in C sharp minor, Op. 39; Mazurkas, Opp. 24/2, 50/3 & 56/3

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COMPOSERS: Chopin
LABELS: Delphian
WORKS: Piano Sonata in B minor, Op. 58; Polonaise-Fantaisie in A flat, Op. 61; Scherzo No. 3 in C sharp minor, Op. 39; Mazurkas, Opp. 24/2, 50/3 & 56/3
PERFORMER: David Wilde (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: DCD 34010
Here is some heartfelt Chopin from an artist who has rarely appeared on disc in recent years. After a high-profile start to his career in the Sixties, David Wilde taught in Germany for 20 years, devoting, as the booklet tells us, ‘most of his energies in the late Nineties to fighting the defence of Bosnia-Herzegovina’. Since 2000 he has lived just outside Edinburgh. This programme was recorded live at London’s Wigmore Hall in 1994-5.

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Wilde’s love of this music is transparent, perhaps too much so. Closely recorded, yet with a well-rounded, somewhat plummy tone, Wilde’s performances are professorial rather than inspired. The opening Presto con fuoco of the Third Scherzo sets off at Allegro con dispirito, the entrancing central section taken with a literal steadiness, its later manifestation reduced to the somnolent, before a brilliantly despatched coda played at the true tempo primo – 8:20 minutes overall, compared with Wilde’s near-namesake, Earl, at 6:35. The Polonaise-Fantaisie, too, suffers from a leaden pace (16:12, as opposed to an average 12-14 minutes) and lack of fantasy, a fault which afflicts the Op. 62/2 Nocturne and the lovely second subject of the Sonata’s first movement: both emerge flat-footed and monochrome. Elsewhere in the Sonata, Wilde produces some fine playing, notably the scherzo and the latter part of the finale, and also in the Tarantella, Op. 43, where he throws caution to the wind. But, as manifested by a small but exposed fluff in the left hand at 2:47 in the Berceuse, I cannot honestly say that the playing competes with the best available. Jeremy Nicholas