Chopin: Waltzes; Polonaise in A flat, Op. 53

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Chopin
LABELS: Decca
WORKS: Waltzes; Polonaise in A flat, Op. 53
PERFORMER: Peter Jablonski (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 448 645-2 DDD
There is more to these pieces than the famous but rather superficial ‘Minute Waltz’: several of them – including Chopin’s own favourite, a melancholy waltz in A minor misleadingly published as a ‘Grande valse brillante’ – touch deeper emotional chords. Even so, it is no use looking for the same visionary quality in this salon music (much of it hastily written as souvenirs for friends) that one finds in Chopin’s mazurkas or polonaises. It takes an unusually sensitive and imaginative pianist to make compelling listening out of an entire recital of the waltzes, and Peter Jablonski doesn’t make things easier for himself by including, besides the accepted canon of 17 pieces, two trifles first published in the Fifties, one of which is almost certainly spurious.

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Jablonski kicks off well, with a fine performance of the glittering Op. 18 Waltz (a piece clearly inspired by Weber’s Invitation to the Dance), and he is admirable in the slower numbers, where he cultivates an affecting expressive style without a trace of sentimentality. Elsewhere, the playing could occasionally do with a touch more lightness and grace.

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As a bonus, the disc also contains the A flat Polonaise, Op. 53, though in a performance disappointingly lacking in grandeur. Misha Donat