Chopin: Piano Sonata in B flat minor, Op. 35; Piano Sonata in B minor, Op. 58

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COMPOSERS: Chopin
LABELS: Zayas Masterworks
WORKS: Piano Sonata in B flat minor, Op. 35; Piano Sonata in B minor, Op. 58
PERFORMER: Juana Zayas (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: ZMICD 102 (available from www.amazon.com)
Among the many strengths of these performances is Zayas’s finely honed sensitivity to the effect of context upon content, her continuous awareness of cause and effect. Not for her the carbon-copy approach to repeated material that mars so many otherwise impressive interpretations. This is truly organic playing, in which everything is interrelated and a powerful sense of structure is conveyed without any sacrifice of expressive detail. Witness her artful variation of phrasing and emphasis in the two Chopin sonatas, where repetition is such a vital part of the drama. Some, though, may criticise her tendency to desynchronise the hands. This is no casual mannerism, however, but an acute response to the immediate balance of melody, harmony and texture. Nor would it be right to suggest that she is excessively self-conscious or idiosyncratic. Yes, there are individual touches, as in all players of the highest calibre, but what we have here is an admirable blend of intuitive response and thoughtful fidelity to the text. Zayas is not a player who blindly follows the score in an attitude of knee-jerk humility, but rather one who has self-evidently pondered the meaning behind the markings. Her use of meticulously plotted articulation and dynamic contrasts as an agent of movement in Mozart’s K330 Sonata is a case in point, as is her deft use of rhythmic profiling in Beethoven’s Appassionata. One measure of quality in any performance is the degree to which the act suits the fact. By that criterion alone (and there are many others) this is a musician deserving of the highest respect. Jeremy Siepmann

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