Nocturne: The Romantic Life of Frederic Chopin

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COMPOSERS: Chopin
LABELS: Deux-Elles
ALBUM TITLE: Nocturne: The Romantic Life of Frederic Chopin
WORKS: Nocturnes in C minor Op. 48/1; in D flat Op. 27/2; Polonaise in A Op. 40/1; Waltzes in C sharp minor Op. 64/2; in D flat Op. 64/1; Etude in A flat Op. 25/; Mazurkas in D Op. 33/2; in A minor Op. 67/4; Ballades Nos 3 & 4; Preludes in D flat Op. 28/15; in G minor Op. 28/22
PERFORMER: Lucy Parham (piano), Harriet Walter & Samuel West (narrators)
CATALOGUE NO: DXL 1152

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Lucy Parham’s trailblazing evening concerts, in which she fuses music and words with the help of some of our most distinguished thespians, have become one of the must-see events on the musical calendar. In an age that has seen the piano become increasingly objectivised, Parham takes her listeners back to a golden age when music was a metaphor for life itself. Hers is playing that is not so much about the actual notes but exploring the elusive regions of expressive reverie that lie tantalisingly hidden between and behind them.

She paints the rich musical canvasses of the ballades with a beguiling range of hues and colours and an exquisite feeling for rubato that appears to grow naturally out of the music’s internal fabric. Indeed, no matter how many times one has heard these captivating miniatures, Parham’s velvet-gloved sonority and rare ability to impart a poetic coherence to Chopin’s stream-of-consciousness flights of inspiration have one listening afresh. Experienced in the context of Harriet Walter’s and Samuel West’s compelling exploration of the Chopin-George Sand love affair through their letters and diary entries, the music assumes a special sense of poignancy.

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Julian Haylock