A Chopin Recital is Andrew Rangell's second album of the Romantic master's music, following his 2003 release of the complete Mazurkas on Dorian. Better known as an interpreter of Bach and Beethoven, Rangell regards Chopin with obvious affection but doesn't seem to be profoundly inspired or shaped by all of his piano music. This might explain the selectivity of this program, which includes some favorites but seems unfocused and a little random. There's good reason to lead off with the popular Polonaise-fantaisie in A flat major, and to include a handful of short character pieces, because they are sure to catch the attention of most casual listeners. While playing three of the Ballades shows intellectual engagement with Chopin's expanded formal ideas and weightier expression, interspersing them with the Prelude in C sharp minor and the Nocturne in E major makes it harder to understand Rangell's reason for choosing them and not playing all four Ballades as a set, as a specialist might. Bearing that in mind, listeners may appreciate this CD with some detachment, because there are no revelations here, just Chopin played with taste, elegance, and a cheerful offhandedness that avoids pretentiousness. Steinway's recording is clear and full of presence, and the ambience of the room enhances the piano's warm and resonant tone.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson