Piano Sonatas Nos 2 & 3; Mazurkas, Op. 63
Javier Perianes (piano)
Harmonia Mundi HMM 902391 64:08 mins
Not all pianists are brave enough to pair Chopin’s two great sonatas on a single disc, but Javier Perianes dives right in. Perhaps he does so a little recklessly, for these are works that adorn some of the greatest piano recordings in the catalogue. Now in his early 40s, the Spanish pianist is a fine but seldom insightful artist, and he doesn’t have anything truly special to say about these masterpieces.
Both sonatas are Romantic works par excellence, yet built on Classical foundations. It’s this clarity of thought that is sometimes absent. The Sonata No. 2 in B flat minor opens with stormy turbulence, but Perianes loses the trajectory and allows himself to get distracted by episodes along the way. He commands the notes, for sure, but not the wide palette of Chopin’s colours. There’s a lack of stillness and nobility in the funeral march and the ghostly finale that follows it—‘the wind blowing through a graveyard,’ as Anton Rubinstein put it – feels staid, rather than radical in its brevity. Perianes is similarly undistinguished in the Sonata No. 3 in B minor, short-changing the desolate beauty of the Largo and even missing the full fireworks of the finale.
The booklet features an engraving of George Sand’s chateau at Nohant, where both these sonatas were composed, and it was during his last stay there with his lover that Chopin wrote the three Op. 63 Mazurkas. Used here to frame the sonatas, they supply balm, but overall this is probably one for Perianes fans rather than dedicated Chopinistas.