Chopin: Nocturnes / Ivan Moravec

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2015 marked a half century since the late Ivan Moravec recorded Chopin’s Nocturnes for Connoisseur Society to great acclaim. Nonesuch reissued the cycle in 1991, as did Supraphon in 2012. Supraphon’s remastering reveals ever-so-slightly less tape hiss than the Nonesuch version, and is a bit brighter in the piano’s upper register, yet the differences are so marginal that, frankly, it doesn’t matter. What matters is Moravec’s spellbinding artistry.

His inflections of phrase and tempo modifications always are proportioned and purposeful. Listen, for example, to the dramatic, almost heart-stopping strettos leading up to the pauses in Op. 32 No. 1’s melodic line (here Moravec, like Rubinstein, somewhat perversely opts for the final chord resolving to B major, rather than the Urtext’s B minor). In the popular F-sharp Nocturne Op. 15 No. 2, Moravec balances the elaborate fioritura passages against more-prominent-than-usual bass lines, and finds uncommon urgency in the often sentimentalized E-flat Op. 9 No. 2.

Op. 27 No. 1 is often interpreted like vague impressionism. Moravec, however, takes the trouble to clarify the murky left-hand accompanying triplet figurations, and propels the central section forward by emphasizing the bass. The B major Op. 9 No. 3’s chromatic melodic dips float over the accompaniment as if two separate pianists on separate instruments were in cahoots. Then there is the stormy intensity of Op. 55 No. 1’s central episode, Op. 55 No. 2’s thoughtfully chiseled polyphony, and Op. 62 No. 1’s long, rapturously murmuring trills. The sonics are a wee bit boxy, and you can hear Moravec’s feet prominently operating the pedals, yet the pianist’s cultivated sonority comes through with no qualification.

REVIEW:

2015 marks a half century since the late Ivan Moravec recorded Chopin’s Nocturnes for Connoisseur Society to great acclaim. Nonesuch reissued the cycle in 1991, as did Supraphon in 2012. Supraphon’s remastering reveals ever-so-slightly less tape hiss than the Nonesuch version, and is a bit brighter in the piano’s upper register, yet the differences are so marginal that, frankly, it doesn’t matter. What matters is Moravec’s spellbinding artistry.

His inflections of phrase and tempo modifications always are proportioned and purposeful. Listen, for example, to the dramatic, almost heart-stopping strettos leading up to the pauses in Op. 32 No. 1’s melodic line (here Moravec, like Rubinstein, somewhat perversely opts for the final chord resolving to B major, rather than the Urtext’s B minor). In the popular F-sharp Nocturne Op. 15 No. 2, Moravec balances the elaborate fioritura passages against more-prominent-than-usual bass lines, and finds uncommon urgency in the often sentimentalized E-flat Op. 9 No. 2.

Op. 27 No. 1 is often interpreted like vague impressionism. Moravec, however, takes the trouble to clarify the murky left-hand accompanying triplet figurations, and propels the central section forward by emphasizing the bass (sound clip). The B major Op. 9 No. 3’s chromatic melodic dips float over the accompaniment as if two separate pianists on separate instruments were in cahoots. Then there is the stormy intensity of Op. 55 No. 1’s central episode, Op. 55 No. 2’s thoughtfully chiseled polyphony, and Op. 62 No. 1’s long, rapturously murmuring trills. The sonics are a wee bit boxy, and you can hear Moravec’s feet prominently operating the pedals, yet the pianist’s cultivated sonority comes through with no qualification.

Supraphon’s annotations include a wonderful interview where the pianist offers vivid recollections about the recording sessions. As with Rubinstein, Moravec gives us the Nocturnes with opus numbers, leaving out two posthumously-published pieces: the C-sharp minor Nocturne that remains inexplicably popular as an encore, and a lesser known C minor Nocturne. If you don’t own Moravec’s peerless Nocturne cycle, your Chopin collection is incomplete.

-- ClassicsToday.com (Jed Distler)



Product Description:


  • Release Date: January 29, 2013


  • Catalog Number: SU4097-2


  • UPC: 099925409722


  • Label: Supraphon


  • Number of Discs: 2


  • Period: Romantic


  • Composer: Frédéric Chopin


  • Performer: Ivan Moravec



Works:


  1. Nocturnes (3), Op. 9

    Composer: Frédéric Chopin

    Performer: Ivan Moravec (PIano)


  2. Nocturnes (3), Op. 15

    Composer: Frédéric Chopin

    Performer: Ivan Moravec (PIano)


  3. Nocturnes (2), Op. 27

    Composer: Frédéric Chopin

    Performer: Ivan Moravec (PIano)


  4. Nocturnes (2), Op. 32

    Composer: Frédéric Chopin

    Performer: Ivan Moravec (PIano)


  5. Nocturnes (2), Op. 37

    Composer: Frédéric Chopin

    Performer: Ivan Moravec (PIano)


  6. Nocturnes (2), Op. 48

    Composer: Frédéric Chopin

    Performer: Ivan Moravec (PIano)


  7. Nocturnes (2), Op. 55

    Composer: Frédéric Chopin

    Performer: Ivan Moravec (PIano)


  8. Nocturnes (2), Op. 62

    Composer: Frédéric Chopin

    Performer: Ivan Moravec (PIano)


  9. Nocturne in E Minor, Op. 72

    Composer: Frédéric Chopin

    Performer: Ivan Moravec (PIano)