Frédéric Chopin - Selections

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FREDERIC CHOPIN - Frédéric Chopin - Piano Sonata No. 2 - Mazurkas Op. 63 - Fantaisie Op. 49 - Nocturnes - André Laplante (Piano) - 0774204996420 - Analekta AN29964

The main work on this wonderful CD is the Piano Sonata No. 2, made famous by the constant use of its 'Funeral March' movement in many movies and TV shows. It was heard for the first time in public at Chopin's own funeral in 1849.

It has been recorded over 100 times. Some of the more recent recordings since the start of 2009 include Marc-André Hamelin and Yuja Wang. I was certain that the Hamelin interpretation would be the best, but this new André Laplante is so well performed in every sense of the word, that it now takes first place. Laplante is not as well known by the general public, mostly due to the fact that he does not release new CDs every year like most performers these days, but each and every recording that he's done are all excellent. He has won many competitions and received many awards over the years, and keeps busy by touring around the world and playing with many orchestras.

This new Chopin disc is very simply dazzling. The Nocturnes are beautifully played, the Mazurkas are elegant and POLISHed (excuse the pun), but it's the Sonata that shines on this new recording. Every note, phrase, nuance, emotion, are all given full meaning and expression, and the final movement, the Presto, is impressive. Other pianists tend to muddle the extremely quick notes without a clear sense of direction, but Laplante manages to make every note crystal clear and accent key notes within the ultra fast blur of this strange movement. Even the virtuoso Hamelin is a bit murky in this devilish section.

The sound of the piano is very solid on this very fine Analekta recording. Hopefully, André Laplante will now resume a busier recording schedule.

Jean-Yves Duperron