The 2015 International Chopin Competition in Warsaw was so thick with talent that even as fine a Chopin interpreter as Aimi Kobayashi did not make the medal stand (she did place in the round of ten). She's an exceptional pianist who brings the power and speed of the piano stars of yore, who often plays Liszt as well as Chopin. On this release of Chopin's preludes, plus a few other Chopin hits, listen to the well-worn Prelude in C minor, Op. 28, No. 20, where the imposing opening chords seem to pulse through the whole work. Kobayashi's passagework in the faster preludes is fleet but never muddy, and where Chopin has embedded a melody, she catches it. She tames the tendency of her Steinway to sound pounded in the upper register at high volumes, which she certainly produces. Her expressivity is often not accomplished so much through tempo rubato as through pauses, as in the absorbing treatment of the Prelude in A minor, Op. 28, No. 2. The concluding Fantaisie-Impromptu in C sharp minor, Op. 66, is an exceptional performance, shimmering with bits of melody and thought, and again, bringing to mind the legendary Chopin interpreters. One awaits more from this charismatic young pianist, here recorded well at the Uonuma City Koidego Cultural Center in Japan's Niigata Prefecture.
Chopin: Preludes; Piano Works Review
by James Manheim
|24 Préludes Op. 28 CT 166-89|