Chopin: Berceuse in D flat

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COMPOSERS: Chopin
LABELS: National Institute Fryderyk Chopin
WORKS: Berceuse in D flat, Op. 57; Nocturne in C sharp minor, Op. 27, No. 1; Tarantella in A flat, Op. 43; Bolero in A minor, Op. 19; Rondo in C minor, Op. 1; Rondo in E flat, Op. 16; Allegro de concert in A, Op. 46; Polonaise in D minor, Op. 71 No. 1; Variations on Là ci Darem la Mano
PERFORMER: Nikolai Demidenko (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: NIFCCD 014

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Reaching completion, the Frederyk Chopin National Institute’s Real Chopin series recorded on instruments of the composer’s day is mopping up corners of the repertoire, so although Nikolai Demidenko opens his recital with a gentle masterpiece, the Berceuse, the programme is not the most logical or consistent.

Yet the Russian pianist, not normally associated with period-conscious performance, makes a valuable contribution to the project, and unifies this miscellany with his interpretative authority.

The programme ranges from two well-known Mediterranean-inspired dances, the Tarantella and Bolero, to the rarely heard Op. 46 Allegro de concert. Demidenko is illuminating in the early works, which include the Rondo in C minor, Op. 1. One of the most original of composers, whose style was set from the very beginning, Chopin is heard here as an already authentic voice.

Though it sometimes carries a high opus number, the D minor Polonaise, unpublished during his lifetime, also dates from the composer’s teenage years, and Demidenko captures its refreshing delicacy.

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Even if the Variations on Mozart’s ‘Là ci darem’ seem preferable in their version with orchestra, they round things off attractively – indeed, it’s impossible to resist anything played on this 1848 Pleyel, one of the best-recorded period pianos on disc. John Allison