Chopin News, Reviews, and Previews:

André Laplante: Piano virtuoso and artist
Barre Montpelier Times Argus – Barre,VT,USA

Previewing his appearance in the Vermont capital, Quebec pianist shares his approach to Chopin:

André’s first point was that Chopin (1810-1849) was a great pianist, and that the piano, not other instruments or the orchestra, was his medium.

“So, you listen to purely Romantic music that was extraordinarily written for piano,” André said. “A lot of pianists are interested in playing Chopin because it’s wonderfully written for piano and, also, it’s wonderfully expressive.”

“He has something to say, but it’s very atmospheric, very imaginative, very colorful,” André went on. “He knew absolutely what you could do with the piano.” Still, a lot depends on the performer.

“If you add structure and add a sense of line, it becomes even more beautiful because it is so well composed,” André said. “With Chopin, you have everything that is pianistic, everything that’s musical, and everything that’s well put together.” André cited the B-Flat Minor Sonata….

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Pianist Nieman entrances Symphony audience
Santa Cruz Sentinel – Santa Cruz,CA,USA

Former Gilmore Young Artist Adam Neiman plays scintillating Chopin in Santa Cruz…

The extreme precision of Neiman’s playing displayed the details of Chopin’s “Concerto No. 1” while his sensitive nuances imbued the work with emotional depth. Both soloist and orchestra dramatically contrasted the music’s dainty passages with its fiery outbursts. The Symphony’s fine Steinway, with its clear and vibrant tone, responded admirably in both the forceful and delicate realms. In the “Romance: Larghetto” movement, Neiman’s piano set a dreamy ambiance above a seamless fabric of strings. The bassoon, played by Jane Orzel, sang beautifully in a rare romantic role. Though this concerto has no solo cadenzas, it brims with virtuosic passages, which Neiman executed with polish and verve.

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Music Review: Dutoit marshals PSO forces with elan
Pittsburgh Post Gazette – Pittsburgh,PA,USA

Applause for Ax and his approach to the other Chopin concerto:

In the mid-1990s, Emanuel Ax decided to get a more intimate connection to the music of Chopin by recording on an Erard piano — the same type on which the composer wrote many of his most famous works. His playing of Chopin since then has been greatly informed by this wise excursion from the concert grand, and yesterday he again found a way to bring that more agile sound to the larger tone of the Steinway.

Ax’s light attack not only fit Chopin’s phrasing for the pianist, but lent the concerto an improvisatory spirit (I could swear he gave a few extemporaneous flourishes, too). The only downside was it further exposed Chopin’s stilted writing for orchestra. Clearly the best parts of this work occur when the pianist plays. Ax substituted for Alfred Brendel three weeks ago. It would be a shame not to hear him again for a while.

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Musicians offer new spin on songs
Colorado Springs Gazette – Colorado Springs,CO,USA

Preview of an unusual song-first transcription-later recital by pianist Michael Baron and soprano Jeanie Darnell, presented by the Rocky Mountain Music Alliance….

Baron said he can’t resist the lure of playing vocal music arranged for piano.

“As pianists, we play on what we don’t like to think of as a percussive instrument,” he said.

“Many of us look at the voice as the ideal instrument. That’s the challenge for me: to imitate a crescendo on a single note, or a perfect legato.”

The program begins with “God Save the King” – known in the United States as “America” – followed by Beethoven’s variations on the theme.

There will be songs by Beethoven, Schubert and Alabiev, each followed by Franz Liszt’s solo transcription.

“Then we’re doing the opposite,” Baron said – a group of vocal arrangements of Chopin mazurkas by Pauline Viardot-Garcia, a singer of Chopin’s era and one of the composer’s close friends.

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