Magazine article Gramophone

Chopin: 'Chopin Now'

Magazine article Gramophone

Chopin: 'Chopin Now'

Article excerpt

Chopin

'Chopin Now'

Four Ballades. Barcarolle, Op 60. Two Nocturnes, Op 62. Polonaise-fantaisie, Op 61

Hakon Austbo pf

Simax (F) PSC1347 (68' * DDD)

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

'Chopin Now' is the title of this new disc from the Norwegian pianist Hakon Austbo, a concept explored and explained in the thought-provoking booklet essay, the gist of which is that Chopin is as relevant today as he has ever been. Austbo couples the Four Ballades with late pieces and, throughout, he's keen to emphasise the rhapsodic, in-the-moment quality of the music. This works well in the innocent opening of the Second Ballade; the Third, too, begins with a certain freedom, though here both Perahia and Zimerman are effective for their greater initial reserve, the repeated A flat octave sounding more brazen in Austbo's hands. What concerned me more, though, is that in places he sounds effortful--his Polonaise-fantaisie never truly takes wing--and his filigree is less silken than some (just sample from 5T6" of the First Ballade). Turn to the teenage Argerich, caught by Berlin Radio in 1959 (DG, 7/10), and you hear what's missing. …

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