Haydn, Mendelssohn, Chopin

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Chopin,Haydn,Mendelssohn
LABELS: Belle Records
WORKS: Piano Sonata in A flat, Hob. XVI:43
PERFORMER: SangMi Chung (piano)
As she makes plain in the very opening bars of the Haydn, SangMi Chung is a highly stylish and musicianly pianist with a keen sense of idiom, form and characterisation. If her performances were consistently at the level of her best playing here, this release would be cause for celebration. As it is, it’s a proverbial curate’s egg in which the good parts are very good indeed, and the less good parts, with a few exceptions, are pretty good too. These things are notoriously personal, of course, and my reservations about the playing on this disc as a whole are similar to my reservations about performances from some of the biggest names in the business. They concern a certain hardness of tone (slow movement of the Haydn), an intermittent insufficiency of melodic inflection, where harmonic tensions are not properly resolved at the ends of phrases, and sometimes a rather too narrow dynamic range and colouristic palette. But the virtues outweigh the shortcomings. Among them are a lovely crispness and buoyancy of articulation, a powerful rhythmical drive and sweep (in the Chopin sonata), and a pervasive sense of proportion, Classical in spirit if not always in style (in all the pieces). Jeremy Siepmann