JOHN FIELD - Complete Nocturnes Vol. 2

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JOHN FIELD - Complete Nocturnes Vol. 2 - Stefan Irmer (Piano) - 1901 Steinway Concert Grand Piano D - 760623185026 - Released: October 2015 - MDG 6181850-2

Irish composer John Field (1782-1837) has been attributed the invention of the 'Nocturne' (despite the fact that many believe this particular set of pieces was labeled as such after his death), and because of that has often been considered a major influence on, and even been compared to, Frédéric Chopin. I personally do not hear any connection whatsoever between the two composers, and consider their individual outlook on music to be poles apart. For me, the composer that immediately springs to mind when I listen to these pieces is Franz Schubert. I would even go so far as to compare these Nocturnes to Schubert's Impromptus. It is even believed that Field would sometimes reinvent his compositions extemporaneously for each performance, a behavior that has "impromptu" written all over it.

On this new recording, pianist Stefan Irmer has even gone so far as to include some of his own "impromptu" takes on Nos. 11, 13 and 15. Improvisations that fast-forward Field's music 200 years into the future, and add to it a slight tongue-in-cheek slant (No. 13 sounds like something the Marx Brothers would have concocted in a musical skit). It's all in good fun and makes for a pleasant listening experience. As in his excellent recording of the piano music of Jules Massenet, Stefan Irmer finds a way here to edify this set of pieces to a higher level, even when they sometimes radiate a sense of naïve simplicity. These pieces are emotionally far removed from the deeply romantic expressive art of Chopin's Nocturnes, and instead are meant to cajole the listener with light-hearted, free spirited music meant to uplift from the mundane and academic fodder of the times. That's the way I perceive Stefan Irmer's interpretation. An interpretation that does not distort John Field's reflection in the mirror of time.

Jean-Yves Duperron - September 2015