Chopin: Piano Sonata No. 2 in B flat minor, Op. 35; 4 Nocturnes; Scherzo No. 2 in B flat minor, Op. 31; Barcarolle, Op. 60

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COMPOSERS: Chopin
LABELS: Virgin The Classics
WORKS: Piano Sonata No. 2 in B flat minor, Op. 35; 4 Nocturnes; Scherzo No. 2 in B flat minor, Op. 31; Barcarolle, Op. 60
PERFORMER: Mikhail Pletnev (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: VM 5 61836 2 Reissue (1990)
Mikhail Pletnev is one of the most brilliant pianists around. Sometimes he teases us with perverse demonstrations of control – as in the development of the Sonata’s first movement, the middle section of its march, the F sharp Nocturne, and so on. The Scherzo is full of brilliant effects which don’t quite cohere, at least not spontaneously. Yet in its way, the Barcarolle is wonderfully imaginative and colourful, its final section lit up with outrageous Italian swagger. The great C minor Nocturne is Italianate, too, and operatically tragic here. The recording is recessed but captures Pletnev’s many colours.

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Garrick Ohlsson is a studied pianist in a different way – rather too insistent on proving his masculinity in the Polonaises and his sensitivity in the Nocturnes, and yet his later recording of the complete Nocturnes on Arabesque is about the most imaginative there is. Adam Harasiewicz is more aristocratically stylish in the Polonaises. Adrian Jack