COMPOSERS: Chopin; Faure; Liszt; Marcello; Mendelssohn
LABELS: Black Box
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Venezia
PERFORMER: Florian Uhlig (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: BBM 1054
Chopin made something new of any genre he happened to write in, but his one and only Barcarolle is a special case: a tour de force concealing the limitation of a mesmerising motion in triplets, which all Venetian gondola songs have in common. Many pianists make it strong and beefy, like a fifth Ballade, perhaps. It seems more natural as a sort of Nocturne, though Chopin also found plenty of drama in that genre. Florian Uhlig keeps it dreamy and delicate until the full-throated final section, so you can imagine yourself floating lazily on the water as it laps around you. He has devised the whole programme of this disc as a context for Chopin’s masterpiece, not just with other Barcarolles, including Liszt’s gloomy evocations of funeral gondolas, but by way of contrast, with music written by Venetian composers like Marcello, Galuppi and Malipiero, whose three Omaggi introduce a welcome touch of sardonic humour. Uhlig’s own homage to Ravi Shankar takes Chopin’s accompaniment as if it were the start of a rag and was inspired by a concert he gave with the Indian master. His playing throughout is sensitive and melting, with a fine legato line attuned to what sounds like a fairly large and resonant recording studio.