This interesting disc offers excellent readings of a mix of Chopin Polonaises, Waltzes, Mazurkas and Nocturnes, all played on a fortepiano that is a copy of a Conrad Graf instrument from Vienna of 1826 that Chopin would most likely have played during his time there in the late 1820’s. There’s a very interesting essay in the accompanying booklet from the instrument’s builder, Christopher Clarke, dealing with the public’s perception of pianos, in general. In modern times, we have this generalized, preconceived notion of how a grand piano should sound; in Chopin’s time, piano building was localized regionally, and regional pianos extolled the sound desired by the local builders. Thus the rationale for this collection; how Chopin’s music would sound in the Vienna of his day.
The pianist here, Pierre Goy, is something of an original instrument specialist, and this disc is a continuation of a recent string of recordings that have focused on the merits of various original and reconstruction fortepianos. His performances here are exceptional; he obviously has a deep understanding of Chopin’s music, and that shows through in these emotionally stirring realizations of these pieces that he plays seemingly effortlessly. The sound of the fortepiano is fairly full-bodied; but at times throughout, the instrument seems to take on a character that’s almost harpsichord-like, and seems perhaps out of place to these ears that are much more used to a more modern performance approach. An interesting experiment, nonetheless, and highly recommended.
– Tom Gibbs