Louis Lortie Plays Chopin, Vol. 6: Quatre Mazurkas, Opp 6, 24, 41 & 67; Hommage à Mozart, Op. 2; Deux Polonaises, Op. 40;
Louis Lortie (piano)
Chandos CHAN20117 83:35 mins
Louis Lortie has long been celebrated as a versatile pianist, but his thoughtful approach to Chopin stands out. Reaching Volume 6 of his Chopin series for Chandos, he once again puts together a varied and generous programme spanning the composer’s entire creative life. Mazurkas dominate to an extent, and the French-Canadian pianist offers four sets of them including the posthumously published Op. 67, from which the second piece (G minor), one of the composer’s last works, is heartfelt in its simplicity.
In Chopin’s first set of Mazurkas, Op. 6, Lortie displays complete command of the elusive, ‘exotic’ rhythms, and the glowing warmth of the Op. 24 set comes across well on his Fazioli piano. The Op. 41 Mazurkas, produced in Mallorca alongside (more famously) the Preludes, are among the most compositionally rigorous and Lortie relishes their possibilities.
Chopin’s Hommage à Mozart dates from 1827 and is the solo arrangement the teenage composer made of his own variations on ‘Là ci darem la mano’ for piano and orchestra. Mozart’s evergreen tune is given the full stile brilliant treatment, and Lortie has all the dazzling virtuosity required. He also understands that quintessential Polish dance form, the Polonaise, a genre some pianists tend to rush where steadiness better coveys pride in Poland’s vanished statehood; his account of the Op. 40 C minor Polonaise is more deliberate than many, with a powerful sense of tragedy. Rounding off the recital with one of Chopin’s towering masterpieces, the Fantaisie in F minor, he gives rein to its truly Romantic range of emotions.