Arthur Schoonderwoerd

Chopin: Ballades & Nocturnes

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The listener hearing Chopin played on a piano built in 1836 knows not to expect the sonorous depths and brilliant heights of a modern concert grand and is often content if the instrument stays in tune for the duration of the piece. But there is meager reward in hearing Chopin on an 1836 piano played with as little flexibility, grace, and feeling as in this performance by Arthur Schoonderwoerd. One can only wonder why the pianist disregards the interpretive liberties routinely taken in nineteenth century performance practice, why he makes such scant use of tempo rubato, why his phrasing is so stiff, and why he holds back in fast passages and climaxes. The piano itself doesn't help Schoonderwoerd's case; even for a nearly two-century-old instrument, its action is clunky, its upper register pingy, and its lower register weak. While it's possible to admire the program, a cunning mixture of ballades and nocturnes, one can only regret the execution. Alpha Productions' digital sound is surprisingly flat and thick.

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