COMPOSERS: Balakirev,Bendel,Busoni,Godard,Godowsky & Leschetizky,Grieg,Honegger,L Berkeley,Mompou,Nápravnik,Tchaikovsky,Villa-Lobos
WORKS: Works by Balakirev, Bendel, Grieg, Busoni, Nápravník, Tchaikovsky, Honegger, L Berkeley, Villa-Lobos, Mompou, Godard, Godowsky & Leschetizky
PERFORMER: Jonathan Plowright (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 67803
Chopin didn’t just inaugurate an entirely new conception of writing for the piano; his strongly and seductively individual musical personality has haunted and captivated generations of piano composers since, giving rise to countless hommages, echoes and tributes.
Jonathan Plowright’s entertaining recital is entirely drawn from such pieces, ranging from famous names (Tchaikovsky’s Un poco di Chopin) to the deeply obscure – Franz Bendel, for instance – and it’s nice to have an opportunity to hear a delightful Hommage à Chopin by Theodor Leschetizky, revered as a teacher yet forgotten as a composer.
Villa-Lobos gives Chopin a Brazilian spin in his Nocturne and Ballade; Honegger’s Souvenir de Chopin was written for a film about the French Resistance; Lennox Berkeley’s three stylish Mazurkas sound more like Szymanowski than Chopin.
Most of these pieces are light, even frothy morceaux, and Plowright does not overstate the musical case for them beyond their obvious delights of refinement and dexterity. But he balances them with two superb sets of variations on Chopin themes: Busoni’s late Ten Variations on the C minor Prelude and Frederico Mompou’s substantial work on another Prelude, Op. 28 No. 7.
Mompou’s 11th variation is the sublimest track on the disc. It is in places like these that Plowright shows his real qualities as a virtuoso, especially his clarity of texture and instinct for phrasing. Warmly recommended. Calum MacDonald