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Chopin: Complete Mazurkas, Vol. 1 (Peter Jablonski)

Peter Jablonski (piano) (Ondine)

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

Chopin
Mazurkas, Vol. 1: Opp 6, 7, 17, 24, 30, 33 & 41
Peter Jablonski (piano)
Ondine ODE1412-2   76:48 mins

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Mazurkas have been a constant thread through the career of the Swedish pianist Peter Jablonski, perhaps in tribute to his half-Polish roots. Fifteen years ago he released a recording juxtaposing a selection of Chopin’s mazurkas with some of those of Szymanowski and Maciejewski, and in 2020 he began his association with the Ondine label by releasing the complete mazurkas of Scriabin. Now, after excursions into rarer repertoire by Alexey Stanshinsky and Grażyna Bacewicz, he returns to the heart of the matter with the first volume of Chopin’s complete mazurkas, taking a chronological journey through the seven sets between Op. 6 and Op. 41.

These encompass the first half of Chopin’s career and take us up to 1838-39, and include some of the most directly appealing and nostalgic of his mazurkas – which is saying a lot, considering that the 57 such pieces he composed throughout his creative life, sometimes referred to as his ‘heart’s sanctuary’, comprise his most intimate musical testament.

Jablonski frequently captures this intimacy, but in pitting himself against some of the greatest Chopin interpreters he also discloses the limitations of his vision. Almost any of the sets would succeed attractively in a more varied recital, for he certainly has a feeling for the bittersweet melancholy of this dance form. But perhaps a little too closely recorded, he often sounds over-emphatic – some spikiness on the offbeats is welcome – and the cumulative effect is one-dimensional.

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John Allison