Folke Nauta

Chopin: Polonaises

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While the polonaises of Frédéric Chopin are far from his most delicate or fragile pieces, one still expects them to be executed with elegance and polish, both of which are lacking in the performances on this Brilliant album. Dutch pianist Folke Nauta has a confident technique and a bravura style, but there is a roughness to his playing that makes it seem quite brusque and almost careless. If this is a virtuoso's showing-off, it may make the polonaises feel passionate and exciting in a live recital, but on disc, and without Nauta's physical presence, they come off as slightly inaccurate in attack, frequently hasty in tempo, and unnecessarily dissonant, with many chromatic passages blurred in the pianist's grabbing at fistfuls of notes. The customary stateliness of the Polonaise is missing, as well, and it may be that Nauta's understanding of the form doesn't include it as a necessary characteristic. Added to this album's problems is the strangely flat digital sound that makes the piano seem tinny in the upper range, lackluster in the middle, and tubby in the bass, and at a moderate to low volume, the microphone placement seems distant. This album may be adequate for a study aid, but there are many legendary recordings by major artists that listeners should hear before considering the purchase of this CD.

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