Frederic Chopin - Nocturnes - Francois Chaplin

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FREDERIC CHOPIN - NOCTURNES (Complete) - François Chaplin (Piano) - 2-Disc Set - 3760009292222 - Zig-Zag Territoires 100203.2

This year (2010) we celebrate Frédéric Chopin's 200th birthday. There will be many, in fact too many new recordings issued and old recordings re-issued. Some of the good ones will get lost or overlooked within the stacks piled up on record store shelves or within the top-seller lists on the internet, simply because they are on small independent labels like this one that sometimes go unnoticed because they do not have the marketing budget that the major labels have.

This is one of those good ones, the first to release a fresh new recording of the Nocturnes of which there will be many different interpretations this year. François Chaplin approaches these piano works in a purely musical way. Under his hands, these are not the dreamy, longing, romantic tales some pianists would have us believe. They are first and foremost strictly musical inventions through which Chopin managed to express his most intimate and profound thoughts and compositional ideas. They are pieces in which he created new harmonic progressions and new interval relations. Yes they can be dramatic and poetic, but its their internal mechanisms that drive them there. To emphasize their diversity of mood and character, François Chaplin has even set out to record them not in the usual order of publication as seen on almost all other recordings, but rather in a more harmonically closely knit arrangement that seems to accentuate the composer's harmonic and stylistic evolution. If it was up to me, I would have entitled these pieces 'Inventions' (as in Bach) and not 'Nocturnes'. As François Chaplin clearly demonstrates in his lucid interpretation, these are great forward looking and inventive pieces written to be performed solo on the piano to allow both the composer's and the performer's anima to express itself.

The sound recording is excellent but close, so close as a matter of fact, that at certain key moments within each piece, you can hear gasping breaths of emotion on the part of the pianist. Some may find that to be intrusive, while others will feel it adds a sense of intimacy and reality to the performance, almost as if Chaplin is playing only for you right there in your living room. Zig-Zag Territoires is one of those aforementioned small independent labels that thrives on excellence. Do not let this recording go unnoticed just because other labels are making more noise and drowning it out.

Jean-Yves Duperron