Chopin Young Chopin Pavane

Déjà Review: this review was first published in 2002 and the recording is still available.

Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849)
Young Chopin
Rondo in C minor, op. 1
Rondo in F, ‘à la Mazur, op. 5
Rondo in E flat, op. 16
Rondo in C, op. 67 (solo piano version)
Piano Sonata No. 1 in C minor, Op. 4.
Joanna Trzeciak (piano).
rec. 1992, Original Sound Studio SI, Polish Radio 
Pavane ADW7291 [61]

From the standpoint of repertoire, this collection of early works by Chopin fulfils a valuable function. The four Rondos plus the ‘other’ sonata (No. 1 in C minor) actually make for a musically satisfying hour of listening away from more familiar works by this composer.

This music requires a committed champion, and the Polish pianist Joanna Trzeciak exudes a youthful enthusiasm. By the time this disc was released (it was recorded in 1992), she had already released a disc of Szymanowski piano music on the same label (ADW7219). She has a light touch which is entirely appropriate to early Chopin and plays with fluency born of a clear vision of the processes of this music. Technically, Trzeciak is sound, only showing signs of strain in the clumsy repeated notes of the Op. 5 Rondo (‘à la Mazur’) and possibly not taking the finale of the Sonata at a true Presto (although her chosen tempo allows plenty of detail to come through which might otherwise have been glossed over).

There is certainly a compositional fluency to the Rondos, Opp. 1, 5, 16 and 73. Despite its later opus number, the C major Rondo, Op. 73 was written in 1829. It exists in two versions, one for two pianos and the one played here, for solo piano. As Trzeciak points out in her notes, this piece is ‘very demanding of pianists’ and in the event she acquits herself well, the opening flourishes announcing a boldness of intention. Moreover, she highlights the inherent sense of longing within the music to good effect. In all of the Rondos she conveys the spirit of Polish dance which lies at the heart of these pieces.

The Piano Sonata No. 1 in C minor, Op. 4 is given a thought-provoking performance. The opening hardly sounds as if it is from a Sonata, instead conveying a spirit of spontaneous improvisation. However, this is not to imply that this is a thoughtless rendition, for textures are consistently clear and it is obvious that much thought has gone into the delineation of Chopin’s voice-leading. There are many commendable aspects to this performance; not least the charmingly spiky second movement (Menuetto) or the gently rocking left hand supporting the far freer right in the Larghetto.

Much to commend here, therefore. If only Pavane’s presentation was more inspiring. Trzeciak’s own insert notes are informative, but clumsily translated. On the subject of care in one’s product, Chopin’s C major Rondo, Op. 73 dates from 1828, not 1928 as the information on the back of the casing would have us believe.

Colin Clarke

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