Chopin: Nocturnes

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Chopin
LABELS: Concord
WORKS: Nocturnes
PERFORMER: Andrzej Wasowski (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CCD2 42044-2 DDD
Andrzej Wasowski is not exactly a household name these days. However, it is time that situation altered, and it’s too bad that the Polish pianist, born in 1919, is no longer alive to effect such a change. After surviving a turbulent youth in wartime Europe, winning prizes in the early Fifties and giving many concert tours, in the mid-Sixties Wasowski made his way to America, where he lived and taught until his death in 1993.

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These performances of Chopin Nocturnes, recorded in 1989, are really rather extraordinary. Two features leap out. First, a glorious singing tone of great clarity, eloquence and purity, with beautifully balanced accompaniment and inner voices. Secondly, there’s a concentration on the darker, tragic and redemptive elements of the Nocturnes which makes these interpretations very personal and moving – some listeners might think them too emotionally overladen, but they moved me to tears.

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Each piece feels complete not only musically but also philosophically. Wasowski’s use of tempo rubato is also very striking, probably a little more extreme than current thinking on Chopin would permit, but always applying the true meaning of the term, even within his generally slow tempi. I found these discs deeply stirring. Jessica Duchen