Mendelssohn, Chopin

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Chopin,Mendelssohn
LABELS: RCA Red Seal
WORKS: Lieder ohne Worte, Op. 19/1, Op. 38/6, Op. 67/4 & Op. 102/3; Caprice, Op. 33/1; Variations sérieuses
PERFORMER: Alicia de Larrocha (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 09026 68959 2
Recorded in 1995 and 1997, these performances have taken a long time to reach us, and for all their virtues this is perhaps not altogether surprising. While pianistically as commanding as ever, they present the image of a very good pianist indeed but not the great one we know de Larrocha to be. The melodies, while sculpted with her usual impeccable judgement, lack that nth degree of subtle inflection which separates great playing from the merely excellent. The rhythms are never precisely stodgy but there is a degree of sameness in the phrasing which keeps much of the playing earthbound. A notable, indeed

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often beautiful exception is the Mendelssohn Caprice, though even this, like much else, is marred by

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an abrasive sameness of tonal coloration that grates on at least one pair of ears after only a little time. And how I find myself yearning for a still wider and more variegated dynamic profile, without which Mendelssohn and Chopin at their most buoyant can never float or entrance the imagination, as they do so consistently in the playing, say, of Murray Perahia. De Larrocha is never negligible, but here she is far from her best. Jeremy Siepmann