CD Review: Chopin : 24 Préludes (Richard-Hamelin)

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This page is also available in / Cette page est également disponible en: Francais (French)

Chopin : Préludes Op. 28; Andante spianato et Grande polonaise brillante Op. 22

Charles Richard-Hamelin, piano

Analekta AN 2 9146

★★★✩✩

Several months after praising his Mozart concertos to the skies, I must register some disappointment with Charles Richard-Hamelin’s most recent outing on the Analekta label. Chopin’s Préludes Op. 28 – monumental in their entirety, fascinating in their fragmentary parts – require a more individual outlook than this. The opening C Major prelude (marked Agitato) sounds nondescript and several others are stripped of their “molto” and “assai” modifiers. The little ballet that is No. 7 in A Major seems to lurch to a halt and the “raindrop” of No. 15 in D Flat Major has only steady patter to commend it. Ivo Pogorelich (to select one of dozens of competitors) projects a more songful bass line in No. 6 in B Minor and finds greater colour and rhythmic character in the dreamy Lento of No. 13 in F Sharp Major. Richard-Hamelin seems most comfortable in the amiable moods of No. 17 in A Flat Major and No. 21 in B Flat Major. None of this is to say that the solemn No. 2 in A Minor or the fiery No. 16 in B Flat Minor are less than ably done, but the competition in this repertoire is intense. Even the recorded sound seems a little puffy. The Andante spianato et Grande polonaise brillante Op. 22, reflecting Chopin in his more public and entertaining style, is included as a makeweight.

This page is also available in / Cette page est également disponible en: Francais (French)

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About Author

Arthur Kaptainis has been a classical music critic since 1986. His articles have appeared in Classical Voice North America and La Scena Musicale as well as Musical Toronto. Arthur holds an MA in musicology from the University of Toronto. Since 2019, Arthur is co-editor of La Scena Musicale.

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