Chopin Evocations CD review – faultless Trifonov is hindered by plodding tempi

Trifonov/Mahler CO/Pletnev
(Deutsche Grammophon)

After Daniil Trifonov’s exceptional recording of the Liszt studies last year, the bulk of this Chopin collection comes as a major disappointment. It’s centred on the two piano concertos, for which Trifonov is partnered by the Mahler Chamber Orchestra; the conductor is Mikhail Pletnev, and it’s very much his influence that pervades both the performances. The concertos are performed in Pletnev’s own re-orchestrations – intended, it’s claimed, “to allow more faithful interaction between soloist and orchestra”. But that textural thinning proves much less significant than the plodding, disengaged tempi that he sets, for which even the sparkling clarity of Trifonov’s playing can’t really compensate.

Around the concertos, Trifonov places other early Chopin – a truly exceptional account of the Variations on Là ci darem la Mano, and the Rondo for two pianos with his former teacher Sergei Babayan – as well as later pieces composed in homage. There’s a glittering set of Mompou variations, Barber’s Nocturne, a Grieg study and a Tchaikovsky miniature, all played with predictable faultless brilliance.

Contributor

Andrew Clements

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Julien Brocal: Chopin Preludes etc CD review – quietly riveting

Erica Jeal

12, Jan, 2017 @5:00 PM

Article image
Seong-Jin Cho: Chopin review – mature, touching and passionate debut

Erica Jeal

22, Dec, 2016 @3:30 PM

Article image
Chopin: Late Works CD review – intense focus on harmonic daring

Andrew Clements

26, Jan, 2017 @3:00 PM

Article image
Chopin: Complete Nocturnes review | Andrew Clements's classical album of the week
Though not the most imaginative take on the 21 nocturnes, the French pianist captures Chopin’s music as it was conceived on a superb-sounding 1836 Pleyel

Andrew Clements

08, Jul, 2021 @2:00 PM

Article image
Chopin: Scherzos and Ballades review – restored to uncompromising glory
Huvé’s recordings on meticulously restored 19th-century instruments have been reissued – it’s a rare and fascinating thing

Andrew Clements

13, Dec, 2018 @3:00 PM

Article image
Wang and Capuçon review – a dazzling display electrifies Chopin and Franck
Wang’s crisp and agile piano highlights Capuçon’s warm and intense cello as the star pair perform the concert of their CD

Erica Jeal

14, Jan, 2020 @5:00 PM

Article image
Chopin: Polonaises – review

There are glimpses of the playing that has won Rafał Blechacz many prizes, but, overall, Andrew Clements finds the album too loud and rather crude

Andrew Clements

26, Sep, 2013 @9:00 PM

Rachmaninov: Piano Sonata No 1; Chopin Variations – review
In these recordings there are still glimpses of the great pianist Ashkenazy used to be, but it's a shame he didn't record them 30 years ago, writes Andrew Clements

Andrew Clements

02, Feb, 2012 @10:21 PM

Chopin: 24 Preludes; Scherzo No 2, etc – review

There's a chilly relentlessness about this collection of Chopin recitals that keeps the music at arm's length, writes Andrew Clements

Andrew Clements

01, Nov, 2012 @10:00 PM

Article image
Yundi: Chopin Ballades CD review – plenty of thrilling moments

Erica Jeal

17, Mar, 2016 @6:45 PM