WORKS: 24 Preludes, Op. 28
PERFORMER: Cyprien Katsaris (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: SK 53355 DDD
Chopin’s Preludes range from short pieces many amateur pianists can play without much practice to the kind of music only a virtuoso can bring off. Yet the cycle was designed to be played complete and it’s rare to find a pianist who does justice to every aspect. Cyprien Katsaris is imaginative and original as well as technically brilliant, yet he’s also occasionally hard and heavy-handed: he doesn’t get off to a good start with the first three Preludes. Those who already know the music are in for some surprises, not all of them pleasant, but at least the playing is interesting. Musically, one of the most satisfying performances on disc is still the historic one by Cortot, while among modern recordings, Martha Argerich’s is hard to beat and she’s unequalled in the grander pieces.
Katsaris offers an extra selling-point by including some exhilarating Ecossaises and other, less exhilarating, short pieces, among them a fugue which Chopin wrote as a student. The programme notes are conscientiously informative about these curiosities.Adrian Jack