"As we listen to Chopin's music, we are convinced that we hear a powerful narrative drama," read the CD booklet notes for this release of Chopin's preludes by Venezuelan pianist Vanessa Perez. Perez did not write the booklet notes, but they seem to reflect her approach to the preludes, for which "narrative" is not normally the first word that would come to mind. Trained mostly in the U.S., Perez is not a product of Venezuela's famed Sistema music education system, but her fiery, fearless preludes she matches the fresh, charismatic readings that have been coming from other Venezuelan musicians. The album is unorthodox at both the micro and macro levels. Consider the opening shot, the Prelude in C major, Op. 28, No. 1, where the usually dreamy, lyrical melody with which the piece trails off turns into a sort of ominous mutter. Perez takes it from there with intense contrasts, unusual although not unheard-of tempo extremes, and in general rethinkings of almost all of the famous preludes. This is welcome in the case of chestnuts like the Prelude in C minor, Op. 28, No. 20, where Perez plays down the funeral-march aspect with a slow tempo that turns the piece into a much more more personal piece of tragedy. She leaves little space between the individual preludes, and the overall effect is indeed to produce one large narrative. The average listener will probably find that some stages of this work better than others, and that injustice is being done to Chopin's conceptions at times, but the album is certainly not dull, and Chopin collectors will want it on their shelves and hard drives. Telarc's sound, which picks up what seem to be foot taps from Perez, is as intense and almost confrontational as her playing.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|24 Preludes, Op. 28|