Magazine article Gramophone

Chopin: Mazurkas

Magazine article Gramophone

Chopin: Mazurkas

Article excerpt

Chopin [G]

Mazurkas--No 1, Op 6 No 1; No 10, Op 17 No 1; No 11, Op 17 No 2; No 12, Op 17 No 3; No 13, Op 17 No 4; No 14, Op 24 No 1; No 15, Op 24 No 2; No 16, Op 24 No 3; No 17, Op 24 No 4; No 19, Op 30 No 2; No 22, Op 33 No 1; No 24, Op 33 No 3; No 26, Op 41 No 1; No 30, Op 50 No 1; No 31, Op 50 No 2; No 32, Op 50 No 3; No 34, Op 56 No 2; No 35, Op 56 No 3; No 37, Op 59 No 2; No 38, Op 59 No 3; No 47, Op 68 No 2; No 50, Op posth KK lijb/4; No 51, Op posth KK llft/5; No 56, Op posth KK lla/3 Pavel Kolesnikov pf Hyperion (F) CDA68137 (69' * DDD)

Chopin is far and away the most popular among his coevals, Mendelssohn, Schumann and Liszt, and much of his music is within the grasp of amateur pianists. Responses to him are so deeply and inevitably personal that, in a way, the Mazurkas, Chopin's preferred dance form, belong to everyone, whether they first experienced them listening to performances or recordings by Rubinstein or Pollini, watching choreography of Fokine or Robbins, or through their own hands. Personally speaking, I don't recall not recognising at least a couple of mazurkas. All the more astonishing, then, to encounter in Pavel Kolesnikov's new disc an ideal realisation of these exquisite dances, the likes of which I never dreamt of hearing.

Three sets (Opp 17, 24 and 50) are given complete. But Kolesnikov doesn't present his thoughtful selection of 24 dances in tedious chronological order. As befits a dazzling bouquet, each blossom is given unique placement for maximum enjoyment of colour and fragrance.

It is Chopin's dogged repetitions that can lead the mazurka's most admiring votaries into desperate straits of rhythmic grotesquely. Kolesnikov takes these repetitions at face value, as integral to Chopin's expressive intent. In his scrupulous observation of all repeats, he seems to revel in endlessly varying them without resort to distorting rubato. Not that Kolesnikov lacks pliancy. Liszt said it: 'A wind plays in the leaves, life unfolds and develops beneath them, but the tree remains the same--that is the Chopin rubato.' Kolesnikov does it.

Some of the larger set pieces, Op 59 No 3, Op 24 No 4 or Op 50 No 1, for instance, come to life almost cinematically. One easily imagines a large drawing room cleared of furniture and rugs, its floors swept clean and sprinkled in preparation for a dozen couples whose dancing skill is a joy to behold. …

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