DEFINITIVE RECORDINGS
FRÉDÉRIC CHOPIN - 24 PRELUDES

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FRÉDÉRIC CHOPIN - 24 PRELUDES OP.28 - ALEXANDRE THARAUD (Piano) -
HARMONIA MUNDI 901982


Chopin's piano preludes are short works, some only one page long and lasting a mere 28 seconds. But, they are very personal and intense displays of emotion and passion, having more to say in one minute than a certain composer's (who shall remain nameless) complete symphony or concerto. They are full of regret, anger and frustration at powers beyond one's control. They could all have been the genesis of longer, extended, dramatic works like his Ballades or Scherzi, but their power lies in their heat of the moment bluntness.

Alexandre Tharaud has lived with these works all his life and sees in them more than others. The no.8 in F sharp minor for example, although played molto agitato as marked, displays more inner detail than most. The strange no.14 in E flat minor has never been expressed this way before, with an inner struggle and conflict. The repeated low A flats in the last page of no.17, representing the tolling of a bell, performed with just the right dynamics. The drive and determination within no.18, the final notes being nailed into the keyboard with amazing force. The anger in the left hand of no.22 in G minor, coming to a boiling point. The beauty of no.23 before plunging into the rage of no.24. Tharaud plays like a person gone mad, but in full control of every gesture, every nuance, every emotion. He plays these freely and openly as Chopin himself would have before commiting them to paper.

The cycle of 24 Preludes is shot through with violence and death. I like to play it without interruption, maintaining the same tension throughout, and a certain fear - which is there all the time, underlying even the most serene preludes. - Alexandre Tharaud

Jean-Yves Duperron