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Chopin: Sonata In B Minor, 24 Preludes / Nick Van Bloss

Chopin / Van Bloss
Release Date: 01/14/2014 
Label:  Nimbus   Catalog #: 6215   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Nick Van Bloss
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 10 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

CHOPIN Piano Sonata No. 3. Preludes Nos. 1–24 Nick van Bloss (pn) NIMBUS 6215 (70:21)

Nick van Bloss is an excellent Chopin pianist. The first thing you recognize about his Chopin playing is his sound. He has a big, rounded tone, with an especially prominent left hand. His Chopin therefore is darker sounding than most other pianists’. The overall mood is saturated in deep passion without ever being precious, and the colorings derive from a particularly rich palette. Vladimir Horowitz said of Chopin, “He never weighed more Read more than 90-odd pounds. Imagine!...But on paper he was never 90-odd pounds.” In a nutshell, this gives us the scope of emotion Nick van Bloss exploits in Chopin. His sense of structure is very much his own. Van Bloss is comfortable with making adjustments to his tempo within a harmonic framework that he never disturbs. He provides drama, reverie, and passion without sacrificing the architecture of the music. This is true in both the longest sonata movement and the briefest prelude. Van Bloss gave up the concert stage for 15 years, but he appears to have the capacity to think deeply about music without ever touching the keyboard. As a result, there never is the sense of routine in his performances that sometimes creeps into the renditions of more prolific Chopinists. Van Bloss is a literary man, too, having published an acclaimed autobiography. It is not too fanciful to suggest than Chopin gives him an outlet for his literary bent, finding story lines and lyric poetry throughout this recital. I think van Bloss’s Chopin will wear very well. It is the product of an insightful and penetrating mind and a refined keyboard artist.


In the Third Sonata, the opening movement has an unhurried nobility, both in tempo and texture. The exposition repeat adds to this effect. The second subject appears simple, but is rendered with great art. Unlike some pianists, van Bloss does not play the last three movements without a break. The Scherzo’s second subject possesses an unusual restlessness. The Largo has striking effects of light and shadow. Van Bloss pedals its second subject to create a rich and beautiful legato. He presents the Finale with splendid rhythmic subtlety. This is a valuable Third Sonata, and the Preludes are no less intriguing. No. 2 is a kind of Dies Irae , while No. 3 is a Spring song. A restrained passion characterizes No. 4. No. 6 is like an Egyptian statue in its inscrutability. No. 8 is a virtuoso tour de force . A limpid and summertime atmosphere pervades No. 13. No. 15, the “Raindrop,” constitutes a meditation on life’s fragility. No. 17 is a bold Romantic statement. Van Bloss makes No. 21 into a beautifully shaped exercise in harmonic daring. No. 23 is wistful, with a kind of Vince Guaraldi resonance. The last Prelude in van Bloss’s hands becomes a study in dark colors. His Preludes may not be the most varied statement of these works, but they are emotionally rich and technically unimpeachable.


The sound engineering is very fine, just slightly metallic. It is good to hear the patina of Nimbus’s Wyastone Leys studio, where so many fine piano recordings have been made. My favorite versions of the Sonata are by Cécile Ousset and Van Cliburn. I prefer Daniel Barenboim and Lincoln Mayorga in the Preludes. I think any Chopin collector would be happy to add Nick van Bloss’s renditions to his or her library. This is very classy Chopin playing, with the emotional and technical elements blended into a well-considered whole.

FANFARE: Dave Saemann
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Works on This Recording

1.
Sonata for Piano no 3 in B minor, B 155/Op. 58 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Nick Van Bloss (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1844; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 09/10/2012 
Venue:  Wyastone Leys, Monmouth, UK 
Length: 29 Minutes 45 Secs. 
2.
Preludes (24) for Piano, Op. 28 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Nick Van Bloss (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1836-1839; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 07/25/2012 
Venue:  Wyastone Leys, Monmouth, UK 
Length: 35 Minutes 1 Secs. 

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