Chopin: Prelude

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WORKS: Prelude, Op. 45; 24 Preludes, Op. 28; Berceuse; Barcarolle; Nocturnes: in E flat, Op. 9, No. 2; in C sharp minor (1830)
PERFORMER: Daniel Grimwood (piano)


Daniel Grimwood here contributes his own booklet note, whose blog-like manner could do with some editing, but which also contains some thought-provoking insights into the composer, the music, and the 1851 Erard piano on which it’s recorded.

Yes, the mechanics of this can sometimes be audibly contrary; the reduced volume-range is not what today’s ears are used to; nor is the swimming-pool effect of the evidently looser type of damper-pedal mechanism. But as Grimwood says: ‘The pianist is at liberty to play melodies with a full-throatedness which would sound vulgar on a modern instrument.’

This is the key to what makes his interpretations so impressive. Surging out of the switchback-like contrasts and (mostly) miniature forms of the 24 Preludes comes an unforced power and grandeur, articulated in a warmly rounded, rather baritonal sonority that does real justice to the immensity of Chopin’s imagination.


Grimwood conjures some remarkable sounds, like the iridescent chord-sequences above the deep pedal-note in the A flat Prelude’s coda. He also has a beautifully natural way of allowing contrasts to speak at full value without exaggerating them: the D flat ‘Raindrop’ Prelude is all the more memorable for this kind of anti-melodramatic straightforwardness. His way with much of the Berceuse at first seems matter-of-fact, until you realise that this is cannily setting up a delivery of the coda whose silvery poise haunts the memory. And the posthumous C sharp minor Nocturne – above all the exquisite shading of the closing right-hand scales – similarly reveals a true keyboard artist at work. Malcolm Hayes