Chopin: 24 Preludes, Op. 28; Preludes in A flat, Op. Posth., and in C sharp minor, Op. 45; Nocturnes, Op. 62

COMPOSERS: Chopin
LABELS: DG
ALBUM TITLE: The Complete Preludes
WORKS: 24 Preludes, Op. 28; Preludes in A flat, Op. Posth., and in C sharp minor, Op. 45; Nocturnes, Op. 62

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PERFORMER: Rafal Blechacz (piano)

CATALOGUE NO: 477 6592
Snapped up by Deutsche Grammophon after sweeping the board at the 2005 Chopin International Piano Competition, Rafal Blechacz makes his debut for the yellow label with, of course, Chopin – the Preludes and the Op. 62 Nocturnes. Blechacz is a superlative pianist but an even finer musician, and this is playing of exceptional clarity and expressive beauty. Everything Blechacz does seems natural and organic, and his ability to phrase Chopin’s long lines with an innate sense of time and space is a constant joy.

Blechacz brings an aristocratic refinement and elegance to the Preludes, in both the lyrical pieces (Nos 4, 6 and 15) and those with swathes of notes (Nos 3, 8 and 10). His classical approach is a pole apart from the more volatile Sokolov – who saturates this music with a highly personalised imaginative flair – yet Blechacz’s playing exudes subtlety and musical insight. There are times when his interpretations are modestly understated, hinting at a temperamental reserve that he should outgrow as he matures; Maria João Pires, who shares a similar poetic eloquence, may project her performance with bolder colour and intensity, but Blechacz’s playing is always deeply involving.

After Chopin’s two ‘other’ Preludes (Op. 45 and the less-often heard A flat major, Op. posth), the former played with exquisite warmth, Blechacz again reveals his expressive ease in the two Nocturnes Op. 62, where his blend of classical restraint and Romantic vulnerability is magical. The sound throughout is as vivid and natural as the playing.

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Tim Parry