Chopin: 24 Preludes, Op. 28; Nocturne in C minor, Op. 48/1; Nocturne in D flat, Op. 27/2; Nocturne in E, Op. 62/2; Ballade in A flat, Op. 47; Ballade in F minor, Op. 52

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Chopin
LABELS: Erato
WORKS: 24 Preludes, Op. 28; Nocturne in C minor, Op. 48/1; Nocturne in D flat, Op. 27/2; Nocturne in E, Op. 62/2; Ballade in A flat, Op. 47; Ballade in F minor, Op. 52
PERFORMER: Nikolai Lugansky (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 0927-42836-2
After this young Russian’s recording of the complete Chopin Études, his new disc is a disappointment. There’s a lack of imagination and a lack of emotional commitment, which even reveals itself in a slightly faltering touch in the right-hand melodies of the nocturnes. However softly, however delicately you play, let your intention seem positive! Lugansky’s tone is cool, too, even on the hard side, though the slightly muddy recording may be partly to blame. Another feature of his playing is a sort of angular rubato, meant to give phrases a stylish shapeliness but to my way of thinking merely professional subterfuge, a way of pretending you are feeling something when you are not. So the final effect of the epic Fourth Ballade is expressively shallow, and you feel short-changed. The major item and selling-point is the set of 24 Preludes, which also makes up a journey, or adds up to more than the sum of its parts. In so far as Lugansky has a view of his own, it seems to be a rather gloomy one, without much warmth or light, though I quite liked his bleak take on the Raindrop Prelude. In the end, though, he hardly stirs one’s feelings, and is no match for the likes of Kissin or Argerich, even if their super-charged versions are too much for some. A less self-assertive but deeply-felt version is Kevin Kenner’s on Accord (available through IridiumArts, 01753 884655, or music@iridiumarts.com)

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Adrian Jack