Frédéric Chopin: Mazurkas op. 6 no. 3, op.7 no.1, op. 17 nos. 2 & 4, op. 24 nos. 2 & 4, op. 56 no.1, op. 59 nos. 1, 2, & 3, op. 63 no. 3, op. 68 nos. 2 & 4 – Scherzo no.1, op. 20 – Nocturne op. 48 no.1 – Polonaise-Fantaisie, op. 61
Cédric Tiberghien (piano)
Recording Teldex Studio Berlin (January 2010) – 70’18
harmonia mundi HMC 902073 –Booklet in English, French, and German
Cédric Tiberghien originally conceived this program in 1999 for the 150th anniversary of the death of Chopin. The concept being the offering of a panoramic study of Chopin’s compositions featuring several of the larger “representative” works with the mazurkas acting as a chronological thread between them. It is a concept that works very well indeed, and makes for a most interesting program and fascinating listening.
I have greatly enjoyed this recording and listened to it many times. Mr. Tiberghien is a pianist who combines a prodigious technique with great style and poetry. To my thinking he plays this music as perhaps Chopin himself would have played it. That is to say with a delicate touch and an enormous melodic sensitivity. Too often today Chopin’s decidedly “salon” pieces are played with a bombastic virtuosity that more resembles the music of Franz Liszt. Having seen the death cast of Chopin’s hands on exhibition at the museum of La Scala di Milano, I can tell you that his hands were small with delicate and pointed fingers. They were not the hands of someone who “banged” on the keyboard. Mr. Tiberghien does not “pound” the keys either. That is not to say he cannot dazzle one with virtuosity, as he certainly does in the Polonaise-Fantasie and especially in the Scherzo, but what impresses one most with his playing is the atmosphere he evokes and the perfume he calls forth from the piano. He completely melts you with the melody of the Nocturne, and the dance elements of the mazurkas are only hinted at as they give way to a deeper freedom of expression and invention.
This performance often recalls the playing of Arthur Rubinstein, but has an originality of interpretation all its own. I can highly recommend the recording and it would certainly make a great Christmas gift for the piano buff on your list.