Julien Brocal: Chopin Preludes etc CD review – quietly riveting

(Rubicon)

A protege of Maria João Pires, Julien Brocal has a lot to live up to, and this disc – the first both for him and the new label Rubicon – does so beautifully. Brocal offers a thoughtful traversal of Chopin’s Op 28 Preludes, knitting together these 24 miniatures – some lasting barely half a minute – to form a coherent whole. His playing is quietly riveting, drawing the attention without grand gestures, and so focused that the melodies in ostensibly busy little pieces like No 3 and No 8 hold their stillness while the decorative gossamer accompaniment spirals around them. Only in the frantic No 16 does his composure seem rattled. He rises to the Sonata No 2 in B flat minor with the same intensity on an altogether more expansive scale, and the famous Funeral March that forms its climax is all the more tragic for its contained expression, subtly sighing phrasing and general lack of fuss.

Contributor

Erica Jeal

The GuardianTramp

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