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Friday, September 10, 2021

Jan Lisiecki, Frederic Chopin, Complete Nocturnes


A good case could be made that Chopin's "Nocturnes" and Satie's "Gymnopedies" make for some of the most strikingly lyrical piano works ever. 

A couple of years back Jeroen Van Veen gave us the complete Satie piano works with extraordinarily, almost painfully beautiful renditions of Satie's best, very slow, very thoughtful, solitary and moody effusions that cover you with some extraordinary outreaching lyricality. Type into the search box above for my review of that. 

And right now we have a new 2-CD set of the Complete Nocturnes (Deutsche Grammophone 408-0761) played by Jan Lisiecki. Like that Satie set it slows things down to contemplate the beautiful atmospheric brilliance of the music. No doubt we can thank the advent of the CD and its expanded playing time to allow artists like Lisiecki to stretch out, to take all the time he needs to catch the most subtle nuances of expression, etc.

As much as there have of course been earlier milestone recordings of the "Nocturnes" I cannot recall anyone who focuses with such clarity on the nearly infinite musicality in the scrolling out of each work, the very familiar published ones and too the posthumous pieces. In Lisiecki's versions we get a savored, lucid exuberance.

You can of course tell from the cover photo that Lisiecki is still quite young. But when you listen to the performances you feel the maturity of his expression. Here is a pianist to cherish, and some of the finest readings of Chopin I have ever heard. Do not miss this one!

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