LABELS: London Independent Records
ALBUM TITLE: Chopin
WORKS: Summer in Nohant: Mazurkas Opp. 41 & 59; Nocturnes, Opp. 48 & 55; Ballade No. 3 inA flat, Op. 47; Polonaise in A flat, Op. 53 (Polonaise héroïque); Polonaise-fantaisie, Op. 61
PERFORMER: Ian Jones (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: LIR013
Hand-pick a mixed-genre disc of Chopin, and you’d be unlikely to come up with a selection of greater music than this: two of the finest sets each of Mazurkas (Opp. 41 and 59) and Nocturnes (Opp. 48 and 55), and three extended works in A flat major (the Third Ballade, Heroic Polonaise, and Polonaise-fantaisie). Of course, with such great music comes great expectation.
This is the first solo disc from the British pianist Ian Jones, and at his best – in the Third Ballade, for example – his playing has a lyrical elegance and unselfconscious purity of expression. There is much to admire in his tonal allure and discreet pedalling, his natural and self-effacing sense of style. There is, however, a fine line between eschewing idiosyncrasy and lacking personality, and Jones doesn’t always fully engage with the richness of these works. The Mazurkas, for example, are stylishly played, but don’t quite capture their wistful dance character, their unique mix of gaiety and melancholy. The Op. 48 Nocturnes, too, while lovingly caressed and meticulously phrased, only hint at their expressive intensity – for more dramatically charged alternatives, try Argerich (No. 1), Pires or d’Ascoli. The Polonaise and Polonaise-fantaisie are heavy-going in places. The sound is excellent, albeit with a slightly over-reverberant acoustic. Tim Parry