Chopin: Piano Sonata No. 2; Four Scherzos
ALBUM TITLE: Chopin
WORKS: Piano Sonata No. 2; Four Scherzos
PERFORMER: Simon Trpceski (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 375 5862
In Chopin’s hands the scherzo, once a musical joke, can become as sinister, visionary and fearsome as anything in his Sonata No. 2. And so the programme of Simon Trpceski’s magnificent new CD works excellently, not least for the lightening of mood in the E major scherzo that ends the disc.
There’s a grand romanticism about Trpceski’s interpretations, as well as an attention to detail in which he picks out powerful basslines and unusual inner voices or chooses unexpected yet convincing rubatos. The hectic sweep in the Sonata’s first subject drives ahead with a feverishness against which the second subject is allowed to relax, glowing deep and tender; and Trpceski’s phrasing of the songful trio embedded in the manic second movement is simply magical. The interpretation overall is more idiosyncratic than the benchmark of William Kapell (awareness of whose early death adds extra poignancy to his phenomenal performance on RCA, though alas temporarily unavailable). But there’s also something ideal in the intimacy of Trpceski’s identification with the music and the beauty he finds in the breadth of contrast between nightmare and reverie.
The scherzos, too, are peppered with unusual insights. Pollini’s recording remains one to please pretty much everybody, but Trpceski’s extra liveliness and imaginative touches make his canvas the more personal. Particularly fine is the C sharp minor work, in which the ‘chorale prelude’ element is exceptionally evocative and well characterised. There’s all the requisite power and drama in the B minor and B flat minor pieces, and a rich tone that is satisfying indeed, enhanced by close and resonant but well-judged recorded sound. Jessica Duchen