Chopin: Mazurkas Op 68

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COMPOSERS: Chopin
LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
WORKS: Mazurkas Op. 68 No. 2; Op. 17 Nos 2 & 4; Op. 56 No. 1; Op. 63 No. 3; Scherzo, Op. 20; Nocturne, Op. 48 No. 1; Polonaise-Fantaisie, Op. 61
PERFORMER: Cédric Tiberghien (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: HMC 902073

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Cédric Tiberghien’s satisfying programme features three of Chopin’s medium- to big-scaled works from different periods of his career, and punctuates them with a selection of his mazurkas.

A thread running through this recording, as through the composer’s creative life, these little dances range widely: Tiberghien captures their contrasting moods without always feeling the required rubato instinctively enough.

Polish pianists may do this most easily, but others have succeeded where Tiberghien tends to labour the accents instead of letting the music ‘trip up’ on them. He is not helped by a sound that (though well recorded) can be metallic in the piano’s upper register.

Tiberghien says that if he was allowed to keep only one Chopin work, it would be the Polonaise-Fantasie, and he plays this once-neglected piece as if he treasures it: there’s a sense of mystery in the way the dances are hinted at impressionistically.

His C minor Nocturne is full of atmosphere, but he is almost too virtuosic in the Scherzo in B minor (rushed in places, it does calm down beautifully for the delicate Polish Christmas carol in the middle). 

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As is the norm with Harmonia Mundi, this album is attractively produced and even reproduces a less commonly seen and more nuanced version (owned by the Russian Museum in St Petersburg) of Henryk Siemiradzki’s famous painting of Chopin performing at Prince Radziwi’s salon. John Allison