Chopin Nocturnes

This selection of Nocturnes reveals Perlemuter’s aesthetic to be decidedly different from his teacher Cortot, and indeed such as, say, Rubinstein or Moravec. The sense of directness established by his Fauré Nocturne recordings is apparent here too. This can be heard not merely in linear directness but in a gimlet, directional approach that eschews decorative sensibilities. Thus his Op.9 No.3 is fast, almost terse. He lashes into the central panel of Op.15 No.1 with vehemence, and there is natural authority, clarity and subtle nuance in its Op. companion in F sharp minor. His D flat major (Op.27 No.2) is lit by colour shading, pellucid runs and a refined tonal palette. His Op.62 No.1 is extremely fast.  

Jonathan Woolf,



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There are plenty of other Chopin recordings to be had - some more obviously poetic than Perlemuter's, some more fiery and brilliant but I do not believe the catalogue can offer anything more articulate and more musically thoughtful. In Chopin, such immaculate pacing and punctuation, such natural projection, are still rare. The pity of it is that there is so little of Perlemuter on disc.

Here is a selection of Etudes and Nocturnes deriving from BBC broadcasts. Connoisseurs of interpretation will already know that Sir William Glock, in part of the presentation for that album, described Perlemuter's artistry in Chopin as - at its best - "incomparable, like Schnabel's playing of Schubert". That is a high claim and one difficult to justify to the unpersuaded since the gramophone records are so few; but I should like to echo it. My own view would be that Perlemuter is the most important French pimist since Cortot in the repertory - from uumann and Chopin to Debussy and Ravel - for which Cortot, in his prime, was celebrated.

It is the document of a very special artist who has been unaccountably ignored by the major companies. At a time when a mixture of inflated gabble and cheap sentiment can still pass as Chopin interpretation in our concert halls, here is something which could be taken as a model of what Chopin playing should be: scrupulously honest, searching and imaginative.
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