Magazine article Gramophone

Chopin: 'Imogen Cooper's Chopin'

Magazine article Gramophone

Chopin: 'Imogen Cooper's Chopin'

Article excerpt

Chopin

'Imogen Cooper's Chopin' Ballades--No 1, Op 23; No 4, Op 52. Berceuse, Op 57. Fantaisie, Op 49. Nocturnes--No 8, Op 27 No 2; No 16, Op 55 No 2; No 17, Op 62 No 1; No 18, Op 62 No 2. Polonaise-fantaisie, Op 61 Imogen Cooper pf Chandos (F) CHAN10902 (81' * DDD)

From the disc's title we must assume that this is Imogen Cooper's idiosyncratic (perhaps contentious?) take on a composer with whom she is not normally associated. It is intriguing to speculate why this distinguished pianist at this stage of a lengthy career, rightly renowned for her playing of Schubert and Schumann but whose more than 30 CDs have not included a note of Chopin, has suddenly seen the light.

It is a well-chosen and contrasted programme, opening, courageously enough, with one of the composer's most elusive works, the late Polonaise-fantaisie. In the quieter lyrical passages she finds a rare poignancy that I find most affecting--and indeed it is this element that is a constant feature of Cooper's playing. She has always been rightly lauded for her luminous, rich tone and it is deployed tellingly in Op 61 and the two late Nocturnes which follow (there are similar passages in the Ballade No 4 and the F minor Fantaisie). …

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