Chopin: Mazurkas, Opp. 30/3, 33/4, 56/1, 2, 3 & 68/4; Bolero, Op. 19; Ballade No. 2 in F; Barcarolle in F sharp, Op 60; Scherzo No. 4 in E; Nocturnes, Op. 62

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Chopin
LABELS: BIS
WORKS: Mazurkas, Opp. 30/3, 33/4, 56/1, 2, 3 & 68/4; Bolero, Op. 19; Ballade No. 2 in F; Barcarolle in F sharp, Op 60; Scherzo No. 4 in E; Nocturnes, Op. 62
PERFORMER: Roland Pöntinen (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CD-673
There is plenty of variety in the music on these discs. Pöntinen uses the Polish Chopin Institute scores edited by Paderewski, while Lear incorporates her own extensive researches into Chopin’s intentions – thoughnothing on her present disc willstartle the unsuspecting, in the way that the embellishments to the E flat Nocturne, passed down by Chopin’s pupil Mikuli, did in Volume 1 (reviewed in BBC Music Magazine, October 1995).

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Of the few items common to both recitals, Pöntinen approaches the rarely-heard Bolero boldly, with a strong start, sparkle where it’s needed and a nice lilt. Lear treats it more as a nocturne – gentler and more languid, coaxing the utmost from the flowing themes. Both pianists take much the same view of the actual Nocturne in E and of the B minor Mazurka.

Pöntinen gives us a robust Fourth Scherzo, while Lear’s Third is a shade over-pedalled in the stormy double octaves, with more rubato than is customary in the later chorale-like theme and its fluttering responses. (Compare the version on DG by the young Argerich, who dispatches the whole thing like a tigress.)

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Both discs have much to commend them. On the whole, I find Pöntinen’s treatment the sturdier, whereas Lear’s tendency to caress the themes sometimes results in a lack of momentum. Wadham Sutton