Chopin: Mazurkas

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ALBUM TITLE: Chopin Piano Music
WORKS: Mazurkas
PERFORMER: Artur Pizarro
A somewhat mixed bag of a programme, containing some of the most beautiful pieces of Chopin’s maturity – the luminously ornate B major Nocturne, Op. 62 No. 1, for instance, or the last in the set of mazurkas, Op. 24 – but also a few early pieces of much lesser interest, such as a little waltz in E flat, and a rather plain mazurka from a posthumously published set. Artur Pizarro plays the Waltz in a lumbering style that does little to endear it to the listener, while several of the more familiar pieces here are curiously lacking in sparkle. Two of the other waltzes have the word ‘brillante’ in their title, but Pizarro plays them rather lugubriously, and for all his frequent touches of warmth he seldom conveys the impression that he’s really enjoying the music. Even the famous ‘heroic’ Polonaise in A flat sounds muted, while the fine D flat Nocturne, although beautifully played, is so dragged out that its melody never floats as it should. Much more impressive is the concluding Scherzo No. 2 – but by then, I fear, it’s too late. The sound of the Blüthner piano is not well served by the dry and bright acoustic of the recording venue. Misha Donat