Chopin

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Fryderyk Chopin
LABELS: Sony
ALBUM TITLE: Chopin
WORKS: Waltz in C sharp minor; Sonata No. 2 in B flat minor, Op. 35; Ballade No. 4 in F minor, Op. 52; Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor, Op. 21; Mazurka in A minor, Op. 17/4
PERFORMER: Khatia Buniatishilli/Orchestre de Paris/Paavo Järvi
CATALOGUE NO: 88691971292

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A pianist with plenty of temperament, as demonstrated last year by her Liszt debut album, Khatia Buniatishvili is not afraid of big Romantic works. Indeed, she is probably most comfortable in this repertoire, which is why the most completely successful item on her enjoyable new Chopin disc is the stormy B flat minor Sonata, a Romantic work par excellence. The young Georgian musician shows a remarkable command of her instrument and a volatility that may remind some of Martha Argerich. Yet Buniatishvili’s is not an entirely coherent view of the first movement’s structure. She grasps the more straightforward trajectories of the remaining movements, delivering a gripping performance.

The remainder of the disc is well played but suggests a Chopin style that has yet to mature. Neither the pianist nor the Orchestre de Paris under Paavo Järvi find all the poetry there is in the F minor Concerto, though Buniatishvili has enough sparkle to see her through. The F minor Ballade, the last of Chopin’s essays in this form, is a mature work requiring a broad range of pianistic expression, and though she is remarkable in the hushed opening and in the piece’s later turbulence, she lacks the bel canto elegance that is the mark of a true Chopin player. The smaller works are the least characterised, yet her almost confessional tone in parts of the Waltz in C sharp minor, Op. 64 No. 2, is appealing. Her A minor Mazurka, Op. 17 No. 4, is unduly slow, making for a distended close to the disc.

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John Allison