Various Artists

Frédéric Chopin: Tristesse

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Chopin Tristesse, an album on the Naïve label given its name for the Etude Op. 10/3, is indeed sad in many ways, but probably not in the ways that Chopin intended. The album contains a smattering of Chopin's shorter works, from preludes to mazurkas to etudes, and even a nocturne and a polonaise. With four different pianists performing, the results are a mixed bag. What is consistent, however, is the poor sound quality that Naïve achieves. Chopin's works are so full of potential for color, nuance, and variety of tone, yet Naïve captures only a very small part of this potential. The sound is extremely treble-heavy and, depending on the pianist, at times completely lacking in any reverberation or bloom. The quality of the performances themselves varies depending on the artist. Idil Biret, who performs only the album's namesake etude, gives an enjoyable performance that leaves listeners wishing she was performing the rest of the works on the program. Janusz Olejniczak is similarly enjoyable to listen to from an interpretive standpoint and achieves the best (although still not great) sound quality of the bunch. The remaining two artists, Rafael Orozco and Grigory Sokolov, play with large amounts of self-indulgent rubato that make these short masterworks seem trite. Despite the bargain price, listeners would likely be better off purchasing an album with more consistent performances and far superior sound quality.

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