In keeping with contemporary trends to re-create the authentic sonorities and playing styles of historical periods, recordings of Frédéric Chopin's keyboard music increasingly feature performances on early 19th century pianos, notably instruments made by Parisian manufacturer, Ignace Pleyel and Company. Knut Jacques' 2012 release on Paraty shows off two Pleyel models, a piano from 1843 and a pianino from 1834, types which Chopin owned in the years he lived in France. While modern ears may be more comfortable with the fuller-sounding Steinway or Bösendorfer, appreciation for pianos of the Romantic era takes only a little adjustment. The lighter, silvery tone and more intimate volume of the Pleyel pianos are their most noticeable characteristics, and Jacques plays with control and an assured touch that creates rich, rounded timbres, so rarely is the music tinny or harsh. However, one difficulty listeners will find with this album is the lack of track information identifying whether the piano or pianino is being played. (Jacques' appears online in videos playing the Ballade No. 1 on the Pleyel piano and the posthumous Nocturne in C sharp minor on the pianino, but supporting evidence for the remaining tracks is unavailable.) Jacques recorded this album in the spacious Salon Pleyel à Paris, where Chopin performed his final concert in 1848, so the venue has an attractive resonance and a history that lends the album a special cachet.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Sonate pour piano No. 2 in si bémol mineur, Op. 35|