“Chopin: In my Voice”
Frédéric Chopin: Préludes, opus 28 – Fantasie in F Minor, opus 49 – Barcarolle in F-Sharp major, opus 60 – “Moja pieszczotka”, n° 12, opus 74 – Etude, opus 10, n° 3 (adp. A. Melichar, “In mir klingt ein Lied”)
Gioachino Rossini: La gazza ladra: “Di piacer mi balza il cor”
Chelsea Guo (piano, voice)
Recording: Abeshouse Productions, Pelham, New York (October 18, 20 and 21, 2020) – 73’24
Orchid Classics OR100167 – Booklet in English – Song lyrics in Polish, German and Italian
While others were watching Netflix and ignoring exercise during the pandemic, Juilliard student Chelsea Guo was taking steps to advance her career as a pianist and singer. The talented musician recorded an album of Chopin’s 24 Préludes, Fantasie in F minor and Barcarolle in F-Sharp major. And as if that weren’t enough, the album also features her playing the piano while singing a Chopin song in Polish, an étude in German and a Rossini aria in Italian.
Guo also has a professional website, is active on social media and received international attention from journalists and critics after her album’s release recently. Guo was a 2020 finalist in the National (U.S.) Chopin Competition and has received honors in other competitions in voice and piano. The album is professionally produced, and its booklet contains a number of attractive portraits of Guo.
The artist is intent on bringing the joy of music to listeners around the world. Her performance of the notoriously difficult Préludes revealed facile finger work and appropriately rolling waves of sound. She captures the many different moods expressed in these miniatures with care and unbroken attention to each.
While it may have been a recording issue or the historic Steinway used in these performances, it did seem, at times, that the bass notes were heavier than they should be, especially around Préludes n° 21 and 22, and in other places. The selections throughout the album contained all the right notes, but technique must be immersed in the rich marinade of life before all the flavors blend into a perfect whole. Guo is certainly on the right track to achieving this, and I will be surprised if through patience, study and practice that she does not attain a high level of musicianship in the years to come.
Guo is that unusual combination of talents: a classical singer who simultaneously can play in the classical style on the keyboard. Many listeners will enjoy her bright, enthusiastic voice, with correct breathing and articulation. This is the first time I’ve heard Chopin’s familiar Etude, opus 10, n° 3 sung with German lyrics as well as piano...a surprisingly delightful combination of words and music. How wonderful to have an entire lifetime ahead in which to perfect and share these gifts!