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Chopin: Preludes / Alain Planes

Release Date: 10/13/2009 
Label:  Harmonia Mundi   Catalog #: 501721   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Alain Planès
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Previous recordings by French pianist Alain Planès have been praised in these pages: He has recorded Debussy, Schubert, Janá?ek, and Chabrier, a mixed group that suggests the pianist's range of expression. Here he plays Chopin on an exquisitely warm and yet evidently delicate American Steinway manufactured in 1906. Jacques Drillon describes the instrument as different from a modern Steinway mainly in the shape of the key cheeks. He continues: "The keyboard is unusually light; it is thus both more agreeable to [the] touch and more delicate, requiring of the pianist a finer control of his touch, guarding against unforeseen caprices of the instrument. . . It is not a virile piano."

Virile or not, this
Read more piano sounds solid, if less absolutely electric than a modern instrument. The sound of the piano is a plus in this recording. Of course, it is Planès's playing that matters most. It can be thrilling, as in the Prelude No. 16 in B? Minor, the furious little work that demands expressiveness and speed and the ability, which Planès clearly has, to keep the melodic as well as the rhythmic flow going. It's a talent he demonstrates almost everywhere. The exceptions include an unaccountably lackadaisical Prelude in B?. The extreme variations in volume to which he subjects this piece doesn't make up for a tempo that sounds too slow, and a curious lack of tension. I hear something similar in the beginning of the Berceuse.

I call that fault unaccountable because it is rare in Planès's playing. Although I have heard brighter, more dramatic accounts of the four Mazurkas included here, Planès makes the most of a generally relaxed, if not overly delicate, approach. His sound is ravishing, his playing appealing. This is a superior, if not definitive, Chopin offering.

-- Michael Ullman, Fanfare
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Works on This Recording

Preludes (24) for Piano, Op. 28 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Alain Planès (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1836-1839; Paris, France 
Mazurkas (4) for Piano, Op. 41 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Alain Planès (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1838-1840; Paris, France 
Barcarolle for Piano in F sharp major, B 158/Op. 60 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Alain Planès (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1845-1846; Paris, France 
Berceuse for Piano in D flat major, B 154/Op. 57 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Alain Planès (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1844; Paris, France 
Nocturne for Piano in C sharp minor, B 49 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Alain Planès (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1830 

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