Chopin: Piano Works

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LABELS: Nimbus
WORKS: Piano Works
PERFORMER: Vlado Perlemuter (piano)
Next year sees the 90th birthday of the Polish-born French pianist Vlado Perlemuter. He is now perhaps the last representative of the great era of French piano music: taught at the Paris Conservatoire by Cortot when Faure was director, he later learned all Ravel’s music for solo piano under the composer’s own tutelage. He has also been a distinguished Chopin interpreter, and to mark his latest Mazurkas recording, Nimbus have reissued the other Chopin discs he has made for them since the Seventies (available together or individually). There is a modesty and understatement to Perlemuter’s playing here; he is frugal in his use of rubato and largely avoids extravagant gestures and Lisztian fireworks. But if this music belongs more to the salon than the concert hall, that is not to belittle either composer or performer. Perlemuter gives a sense of being at home with Chopin’s lyricism (aided by Nimbus’s warmly reverberative acoustic); he elucidates Chopin’s phrasing with tonal assurance and rhythmic subtlety, and his simplicity of approach elicits its own grandeur. Most impressive are the more intimate pieces, then the Preludes, the Ballades and the refreshingly unsentimental Nocturnes. Anyone wanting complete technical precision or a passionate Romanticism will need to look elsewhere, but the series is well worth investigating for its quiet persuasiveness. William Humphreys-Jones