CHOPIN: 14 Waltzes – Avner Arad, piano – MSR

by | Apr 21, 2006 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

CHOPIN: 14 Waltzes – Avner Arad, piano – MSR 1133,  54:00  (Distrib. Albany) ***:

A pupil of Seymour Lipkin, Emanuel Ax, and Rudolf Firkusny, Avner Avad plays the conventional set of 14 Chopin Waltzes (March 2005) fluidly and elegantly.  His pulsation possesses the natural lilt which Artur Rubinstein communicated in Chopin, and the scale has an easy, salon grace. The A-flat Major, Op. 34, No. 1 demonstrates Arad’s grand, rubato-laden line and sense of flair. There might be something of Cortot in Arad’s A Minor Waltz, taken as slowly as I have heard. The F Major’s skittish playfulness has not the non-legato incisiveness as Lipatti’s version, but the cut-time Waltz in A-flat carries us along with verve and layered momentum.  The Op. 64 waltzes each retain a light and suave patina, the C# Minor and A-flat bearing the touch of melancholy without which Chopin’s idiosyncratic style would be lost.

The A-flat, Op. 69, No. 1 brings us as close to a nocturne with Arad as we are going to receive on this truncated disc, which could easily have accommodated the four impromptus or some of the more unusual oeuvre in Chopin, like his Rondo-Mazur, Op. 5. The G-flat Major sings with the requisite nostalgia and whimsy as well. The F Minor, Op. 70, No. 2 wants to be a mazurka, and its intricate harmonic movement points at several moments to Schubert. The D-flat adds glitter to its rocking gait, and Avad articulates its left-hand troubadour part with lyrical care. The E Minor plays like an abbreviated sonata movement, rife with metric and dynamic turbulence. Its bitter-sweet middle section Arad executes with limpid and fastidious passion. Which only brings me to the conundrum of why collectors would gravitate to this disc: Arad could have added the posthumous waltzes which scholarship has uncovered or his own program of selected Chopin works that make the waltzes musically and market-competitive.

— Gary Lemco

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