Chopin: Works For Piano & Orchestra

Album cover art for upc 5029365101424
Catalog: PCL10142

Litvintseva, Ekaterina; Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice; Mardirossian, Vahan

The two early concertos of Chopin are repertoire works, deservedly so, for their prodigious synthesis of virtuoso finesse and lyricism. However, the composer’s music for piano and orchestra does not stop there: he produced a quartet of standalone concertante pieces, each on the scale of his concerto first movements, which once were recorded as fill-ups to the concertos but have been neglected in recent years. The Russian pianist Ekaterina Litvintseva redresses this neglect with a beautifully polished new album of all four pieces, for which she receives warmly idiomatic support from the Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra of Pardubice, on an intimate scale which the composer would have recognised (and preferred). Chopin wrote his variations of Mozart’s ‘La ci darem’ as a prodigally talented teenager, a composition exercise for his teacher back in Warsaw. While cast in the popular style of its time – a grand introduction for a popular operatic melody, elaborated with pianistic sleights of hand for maximum effect, and a rousing finale – the piece is inspired with moments of originality that elevate it above contemporary comparison pieces. The Fantasy on Polish Airs and the Krakowiak soon followed, as Chopin was becoming celebrated across Europe as a new star of that new instrument, the piano. The themes in the Krakowiak are Chopin’s own,but their character is designedly Polish – mystic in the Romantic, piano-and-horn-led introduction, then sparkling with gaiety in the main Allegro. The same kind of formal balance is developed in the Andante spianato and Grande Polonaise Op.22: it opens with the kind of ethereal melody which would soon become known as inimitably characteristic of Chopin, the dreamer of the piano, pre-eminent master of his art in the generation after Beethoven at translating a poetic consciousness and private thoughts into the domain of music.

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