Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849): Nino Gvetadze (piano)
Preludes Op. 28
Etude in e-flat minor op. 10, No. 6
Waltz in A-flat major Op. 69, No. 1 & b-minor Op. 69, No. 2
Waltz in b-minor Op. 34, No. 2
Scherzo No. 2 in b-flat minor Op. 31
Ghosts. In the artistic sense Nino Gvetadze is referring to the whole idea of looking at our past through the faint images of our minds eye. We see all sorts of memories, doubts, hopes, love, admiration, loneliness, pain and despair. We contemplate the meaning of it all to us and yet we know there is no turning back. I believe that if you understand the sense of nostalgia and the image of replaying the past in slow motion you will be on the road to understanding the music of Chopin.
I categorically denounce this trend today to un-romanticize Chopin and turn him into the Terminator. Another way to say this is many today want a masculine (loud, strong, and tactless - like Beethoven's evil twin brother) Chopin who might laugh as he pokes you in the eye and steals your lunch. Nothing could be further from the truth - at least in my little world.
Like his b-flat minor sonata (representing life & death) the Preludes are an episodic, autobiographical look a life looking backwards at it. In this case, we can assume his own. There is happiness as well as sadness. There is life as well as death.
Gvetadze's playing either reminds me of my earliest impressions of Chopin as I listened to recordings as a child or really reflects my personality and character. Not sure which or maybe both? There is no syrupy playing here (the ugly definition of romanticism) and there is no bombastic, masculine loudness, banging and unnecessary speediness. Whew! because these are the two examples of the worst kind of Chopin interpretations. Instead this is something closer to just letting the music speak for itself. Along with a certain softness you get the feeling that you are looking at sepia toned daguerreotype photos of your life.
Nothing is really forced or overcooked so for example you might expect your Agitato's to be more agitated or your fortissimo's louder but they typically are not. An example of the latter is the c-minor (Largo) which often gets interpreted with big boomy chords and I am happy to hear it with the middle and ending lines in a true piano and pianissimo.
The disc ends with an Etude, three Waltzes and the b-flat minor Scherzo. The Etude and the Waltzes just happen to be some of the saddest, nostalgic Chopin around and yet Gvetadze restrains herself by keeping everything consistently even keeled.
The piano (a Steinway) and the recording are of excellent quality here. Despite the odd little thing that I would play differently here or there I really like this album. One of the best for me in many ways and close to ideal.