Chopin: Piano Sonata No. 3 in B minor, Op. 58; Mazurkas (excerpts)

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COMPOSERS: Chopin
LABELS: RCA Victor Red Seal
WORKS: Piano Sonata No. 3 in B minor, Op. 58; Mazurkas (excerpts)
PERFORMER: Evgeny Kissin (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 09026 62542 2 DDD
This is the second volume of Kissin’s Chopin performances recorded at Carnegie Hall last year. The first disc largely concentrated on the lyrical salon pieces, and here the young Russian pianist tackles the Third Sonata, interpretatively one of the most challenging of Chopin’s pieces for solo piano, lacking the quasi-programmatic pointers implicit in many of the other works. In many ways, the sonatas can be seen as the composer’s bid for musical respectability – in terms of a Beethovenian ‘seriousness’ – and Kissin’s assured account of No. 3 certainly seems to take that view; he invests the work with something approaching an emotional austerity, so that the Scherzo is almost searing rather than playful and the Largo is stately rather than tender. This is a rather butch Chopin (especially as the sound is often too harsh and close), but none the less impressive for that.

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The remainder of the disc consists of twelve Mazurkas, in which Kissin is more forgiving. He communicates with style and subtlety the great variety between and within the pieces, from the rumbustious, folksy Op. 30/3, through the waltz-like Op. 33/2 to the dreamy nostalgia of the nocturne-like Op. 17/4. William Humphreys-Jones