Magazine article Gramophone

Chopin: Piano Sonata No 2, Op 35. Preludes, Op 28

Magazine article Gramophone

Chopin: Piano Sonata No 2, Op 35. Preludes, Op 28

Article excerpt

Piano Sonata No 2, Op 35. Preludes, Op 28 Julien Brocal pf

Rubicon (F) RCD1001 (65' * DVD)

* Julien Brocal's recordings of Chopin's Op 28 Preludes and Op 3 5 Sonata reveal a sensitive and talented pianist before us, although, interpretatively speaking, he's a 'work in progress'. One liability concerns his way with dynamics, which never go beyond mezzo-piano and mezzo-forte in many of the Preludes. Conversely, when Brocal does let loose with fortissimos (as in Nos 18 and 24) he has trouble getting softer when necessary. In addition, some of the more difficult Preludes, for example Nos 8, 16 and 19, find Brocal letting the right hand assume the balance of power, with the left hand more or less parked in neutral, so to speak.

He misjudges No 9's climaxes, brings a less than decisive rhythmic profile to No 12's agitato phrases and adds a predictable luftpause to the end of each phrase in No 7. No 2 is emphatically heavy-handed, while No 3's quicksilver left-hand runs are accurate but not particularly supple or effortless. To be sure, Brocal scores high dramatic points in No 22, while his fluent and well-proportioned phrasing in the 'Raindrop' Prelude (No 15) keeps the music alive and afloat. Yet, on the whole, Brocal is not about to displace Schmitt-Leonardy, Sokolov, Tharaud, Trifonov, Budu and Zhang, among recent contenders, let alone Argerich, Moravec and Ashkenazy.

Overly loud playing prevails throughout the Sonata's first movement, although Brocal stokes the development section's disquiet with some arresting rubatos. …

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