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CD Review

Frédéric Chopin

  • Scherzo #1 in B minor, Op. 20
  • Scherzo #2 in B Flat minor, Op. 31
  • Scherzo #3 in C Sharp minor, Op. 39
  • Scherzo #4 in E Major, Op. 54
  • Étude in C Sharp minor, Op. 25, #7
  • Étude in A Flat Major, Op. 25, #1
  • Mazurka in E minor, Op. 41, #1
  • Mazurka in F minor, Op. 68, #4
  • Mazurka in C Major, Op. 7, #5
  • Mazurka in C Major, Op. 56, #2
Ivan Moravec, piano
Brilliant Classics 95098 56:42
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Brilliant Classics does far less reissuing of previous material than they used to, but when they do choose that route the results are generally worthwhile. This absolutely gorgeous Chopin recital from Ivan Moravec is a prime example. Recorded in New York on Moravec's own personal piano, this diverse and wholly engaging program shows this somewhat elusive artist at his absolute best. Originally on Dorian, always a label committed to quality, the sonic qualities remain undimmed.

Ivan Moravec has never stayed with one label very long, and records infrequently. The labels he does chose tend to be just outside of "major"; witness his work for Vox, VAI, and others. Pianists and piano enthusiasts alike adore him, though, in part because of the utter naturalness of his output. While some artists have brought more idiosyncrasy and forcefulness to Chopin, few have brought such a rare combination of poetry and power. By this I mean that Chopin as played here isn't simply a Romantic dreamer, but nor is he a tortured soul. The pearly runs that Moravec conjures are as effortless as breathing, while the majesty and strength of the composer is never in doubt either. The whole disc is ideal for continuous listening, in part because the selections are so intelligently contrasted, but also because Moravec gives each miniature its own voice and purpose. Each piece is carefully sculpted and you can truly appreciate Chopin's structural genius as if hearing the music for the first time.

Brilliant Classics gives us nicely detailed liner notes, and a great bargain at budget price. Anyone who hasn't heard Moravec before will find this an ideal place to start. This is an hour of simply stunning Chopin.

Copyright © 2015, Brian Wigman