Magazine article Gramophone

Chopin: 'A Chopin Diary'

Magazine article Gramophone

Chopin: 'A Chopin Diary'

Article excerpt

Chopin

'A Chopin Diary'

Complete Nocturnes. Etude, Op 25 No 7 (a)

Claire Huangci pf with (a) Tristan Cornut vc

Berlin Classics (M) [2] 0300905BC 017' * DDD)

The Chinese-American pianist Claire Huangci has been warmly praised by my colleague Jed Distler (7/15) and it's easy to understand why. To record the complete Chopin Nocturnes at just 26 is a bold act but her love for this music is palpable. The set is called 'A Chopin Diary' (everything needs a USP these days) and in the booklet she writes, sincerely and urgently, of the spell cast on her by Chopin, as well as sharing quotes from Chopin's French literary contemporaries that illuminate her perception of each piece.

For me, a real test of a great Chopin interpreter is whether a sequence devoted to a particular genre actually works as a listening experience. In this instance, that's not only the standard 21 Nocturnes but also the extended Nocturne oublie in C sharp minor plus a reimagining of the Op 25 No 7 Etude for cello (Tristan Cornut) and piano, which, though beautifully played, forms a slightly odd endpiece.

Huangci has made this recording on a Yamaha which has a slightly harsh top register--unfortunate given that this is where Chopin is frequently at his most ethereal. That said, the ears adapt and Huangci is a masterly guide. She's aware of the importance of Chopin's Classical side and there are many instances where she favours restraint over cheap emoting, which is much to the good. …

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