Chopin – Complete Mazurkas, Sonata No. 3

Lukas Geniusas (piano) (Mirare)

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MIRARE Chopin

Chopin
Complete Mazurkas; Sonata No. 3 in B minor, Op. 58
Lukas Geniusas (piano)
Mirare MIR508   53 mins

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It’s ten years since Lukas Geniušas won joint second prize at the Chopin Competition in Warsaw, and Chopin remains an important part of his musical life. In this new recording, balancing some of Chopin’s shortest pieces with his big, final sonata, the now 30-year-old Russian-Lithuanian pianist continues to show an imaginative musical personality.

He opens with a flourish, performing the Mazurka Op. 6 No. 3 with arresting freedom and poetry. He mixes grandeur and delicacy – maybe not always enough of the latter – throughout his seemingly arbitrary selection of 11 of the 57 mazurkas; only the Op. 63 set is presented complete, and the disc’s relatively stingy duration leaves room for more. Some get quite fiery, in contrast to Berlioz’s first-hand account of Chopin’s own mazurka playing having the ‘ultimate degree of softness … the hammers grazing the strings’, so Geniušas’s conclusion with a haunted, hazy account of the posthumous Op. 68 No. 2 is all the more effective.

In the Sonata No. 3, Geniušas highlights its Romantic cladding more than its Classical foundations. His spacious opening movement is perhaps too rhapsodic, losing the thread, but Geniušas harnesses his individuality and virtuosic command to better effect in the other movements. In particular, the Largo has a wonderfully meditative quality and the finale’s eventual arrival in the major mode is properly uplifting.

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John Allison