Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

For the past five years or so I've posted reviews of classical music CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays, in various places on the web: Amazon.com, iTunes and other sites. I'll collect those earlier reviews, and add four or five new ones every month.

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Sophisticated playing in a classic frame


A Chopin Diary: The Complete Nocturnes

Two things need to happen in a very good recording of Chopin's Nocturnes: the very well-known ones need to be played so they sound as fresh and un-hackneyed as possible, while the hidden gems (and there are many amongst the 20-some pieces) need to be polished up to shine enough to be noticed amongst this embarrassment of riches. Claire Huangci scores highly on both points; she's put together a marvellous 2 CD-set for Berlin Classics that's convincing on the first listen, with many special touches that you notice the second or third time around. In a perceptive review for Musicweb, Dominy Clements praises Huangci's rubato, which "almost seem(s) like two-part counterpoint in the independent character she gives between left and right (hand)." This is sophisticated playing, full of subtle effects and strongly etched character, but all within a fairly classic frame. Nothing is mannered or show-offy. Huangci adds two bonuses: the Nocturne Oubliée in C-Sharp Minor, and, along with cellist Tristan Cornu, the Étude in C-Sharp Minor for cello and piano.

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