Chopin: Andante spianato & Grande Polonaise brillante, Op 22; Rondo à la krakowiak, Op 14; Fantasy on Polish Airs, Op 13; Variations on 'Là ci darem la mano' from Mozart's Don Giovanni, Op 2; Nocturne in C sharp minor, Op posth

Reviewed on Fri 25 Aug, 2017

The Krakowiak is the most smooth and formally consistent, with obvious influences from Bach and Mozart, Chopin’s two favorite composers; Jan Lisiecki gives it a fine reading, making free with the tempi.

Chopin’s two concerti are better known than the four concert pieces, in which the piano is center stage and the orchestra mostly remains discreetly in the background; but these four, all completed before Chopin was 21 years old, reveal not only amazingly original piano style but a visionary harmonic mastery unlike that of any composer before him. The Krakowiak is the most smooth and formally consistent, with obvious influences from Bach and Mozart, Chopin’s two favorite composers; Jan Lisiecki gives it a fine reading, making free with the tempi. The Andante spianato & Grande Polonaise brillante is the most pianistically dazzling. The lovely Mozart variations are the least mature of these pieces, but also the most daring in form. The seldom-heard Fantasy on Polish Airs has a multitude of delicious moments. All of the performances here are superb. The posthumous Nocturne, a recently-rediscovered solo piece, lifts fragments from the F minor Concerto and other easily recognizable works.
–Mark DeVoto