Chopin: Piano Sonata No. 3 in B minor; Scherzo in B minor; Nocturnes, Opp. 9/2, 27/2 & 72/2; Waltzes, Op. 64/1 & 2

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COMPOSERS: Chopin
LABELS: Capriccio
WORKS: Piano Sonata No. 3 in B minor; Scherzo in B minor; Nocturnes, Opp. 9/2, 27/2 & 72/2; Waltzes, Op. 64/1 & 2
PERFORMER: Dénes Várjon (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 10 710
Dénes Várjon is a 28-year-old Hungarian who has already made discs of Beethoven sonatas. His Chopin is as prosaic as his Beethoven and it makes you wonder who makes Capriccio’s artistic decisions. Várjon plods through most of the pieces bar by bar; he cannot float a melody, he has a narrow dynamic range, and he has no sense of colour, no real feel for the possibilities of a grand piano. He might as well play a tinny upright. His left hand is as loud as his right, regardless of which is leading. He is merely an efficient technician, and virtually the only decent thing on the disc is the brilliant final section of the B minor Scherzo, which is very clean.

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Gustavo Romero is in an altogether different class. He delivers a refreshingly sensitive and unforced performance of Chopin’s B flat minor Scherzo (wrongly listed as B minor on his disc). Everything else here is eloquent and natural. In the Barcarolle, Romero is gentle and leaves plenty in reserve for the final outpouring of Venetian ardour. Várjon could learn something from his wonderful control of soft left-hand accompaniments and his effortless fluency. If you’re thinking about alternative complete recordings of the four Impromptus, including the Fantaisie-Impromptu, there are Perahia and Ohlsson to consider, but Romero is far from outclassed. A very nice disc from an interesting young pianist. Adrian Jack