WORKS: Piano Sonata No. 3 in B minor; Fantasy in F minor; Waltzes, Op. 34/1 & 2 & in E minor, Op. posth.; Études, Op. 10/5, Op. 25/6 & 7; Impromptu, Op. 29
PERFORMER: Mikhail Pletnev (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 453 456-2
Fine as Pletnev’s playing is, I would not recommend this disc to Chopin scholars. There’s plenty of soul, and fire, enthusiasm and excitement in abundance: the downside is Pletnev’s tendency to impose his own personality on Chopin’s music, taking excessive liberties with the pulse and looking always for some new effect, rather than playing the pieces more or less straight, in accordance with normal musical sensitivity. For example, I cannot believe that Chopin, having headed the opening section of the F minor Fantasy Tempo di marcia, intended it to be played other than in strict time. Ashkenazy (Decca) and Angela Lear (APR) clearly agree. Not Pletnev. And throughout this interesting and enterprising programme his often capricious approach suggests that he has not studied Chopin’s well-publicised intentions.
Yet listeners more tolerant than I am of alternative slants and viewpoints will be impressed by this generously filled disc. Pletnev is prodigiously endowed with technical ability, and this is reflected in the star ratings I have awarded. For more stylish interpretations, go to Ashkenazy or, if you can lay your hands on the discs, to Angela Lear. Wadham Sutton