The incredible Jan Lisiecki performs both cycles of Chopin’s virtuosic Études. This is the second Deutsche Grammophon release from the young Canadian pianist, and his first-ever studio recital album. Chopin’s Études are among the most challenging and evocative pieces of all the works in the piano repertoire. Jan Lisiecki has just finished recording the Études in the famous Koerner Hall of the Music Conservatory in Toronto. The Royal Conservatory has been involved in the training of many notable artists such as the pianists Glenn Gould and Oscar Peterson.
L. Timofeyeva is a laureate of International competitions in Montreal and M. Long in Paris. Only a very mature musician can play F. Chopin’s Etudes, especially in a circle. Here L. Timofeyeva has brought out Chopin’s harmonious outlook and the wealth of light colors. Even rueful, tragic works have found their place in the gamut of feelings. Gentle lyricism – this is the main feature of L. Timofeyeva readings. Soft, winsome sound, heartfelt emotion, love of romantic, expressive melody – these features of the pianist’s gift have determined the interpretations of these works.
France's Naïve label has heavily promoted the career of the young pianist Lise de la Salle, who was 22 when this recording was made. Her fashion-spread good looks fit with Naïve's design concepts, and she has the ability to deliver the spontaneous, unorthodox performances the label favors. How does she fare in a field extremely crowded with Chopin recitals? Her performances certainly aren't derivative of anyone else, and this live recording from the Semperoper in Dresden (you get a one-minute track of just applause at the end) has a good deal of attention-getting flair. The standout feature of de la Salle's performance, in the four ballades at least, is her orientation toward slow tempos, inventively deployed.
Both sets of Chopin's etudes can be as fiendishly difficult for the performer as they are mesmerizing for the listener, yet Maurizio Pollini makes them sound as if they pose no problems whatsoever for him in this 1972 recording. Every one of the etudes is played with easy precision, energy, and an entirely enjoyable musicality that demonstrates why Chopin's etudes are no mere exercises and are as suited to the recital hall as to the practice room. The Op. 25 No. 5 Etude in E minor has some tricky finger acrobatics in it, but Pollini brings out a singing melody all the same in the middle section, while adding a bit of dancing animation to the outer sections…
Berezovsky is a sadly under-rated player, even though he won the Tchakovsky Competition in 1990. His natural talent is given full vent in these Etudes. One must remember that these were studies written by Chopin, each one exploring a singular technical idea - the 'Revolutionary' a test of left-hand power and flexibility, Op.10 No.1 a study in right-hand stretches, etc. Thus in each piece, Berezovsky utilises a different aspect of his phenomenal technique and gives a demonstration of how they should be played. In the CD booklet, one critic accurately observes that Berezovsky 'knows there is plenty of time ahead of him'; and rightly so! In a musical world today where everyone thinks they need to flex their muscle in order to gain attention, Berezovsky carries on at his own pace, regardless. There is no need to play everything at breakneck speed as does Argerich where the tendency is to sink into a show of bad taste and pointless pyrotechnics.