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Frédéric Chopin: Piano Sonata no˚ 3, opus 58 in B Minor – Fantaisie-impromptu, opus 66 in C-sharp Minor – Prélude, opus 45 in C-sharp Minor – Scherzo no˚ 4, opus 54 in E Major – Nocturne no˚ 4, opus 15, no˚ 1 in F Major – Fantaisie, opus 49 in F Minor – Waltz no˚ 7, opus 64, no˚ 2 in C-sharp Minor
Nikolai Lugansky (pianist)
Recording: Slobodkin Center, Moscow (24-26 November 2009)
Recording time: 67’07
Onyx #4049 – Booklet in English with German and French translations

A few months ago, specifically March 1, marked the 200th birthday of Polish born Frédéric Chopin. Justifiably, there have been and will be numerous events honoring the composer’s brilliance in musical contributions during the Romantic Age. Chopin has a distinct style, technique and composition. Lacking a teacher well grounded in piano allowed Frédéric Chopin to become resourceful and innovative. Improvisation and experimentation opened up the doors for Chopin to help him create an assemblage of pieces that have a flair of delight and delectability. Perhaps Polish compatriot Anton Rubinstein describes Chopin’s music best: “…but tragic, Romantic, lyric, heroic, dramatic, fantastic, soulful, sweet, dreamy, brilliant, grand, simple, all possible expressions are sung by him upon this instrument.” Russian pianist Nikolai Lugansky’s selection of Chopin is an excellent representative case study of all works, aptly describing each of the emotions Rubinstein talks about.

Undoubtedly, anyone who has achieved success in playing any or all of Chopin’s works is in a league of his or her own. Lugansky links lyricism and confluence with an expressive connect from mind to keyboard that will captivate any Chopin aficionado. This is how Chopin would have wanted his works to be performed, without any affectation or pretension.

The album opens with the Sonata no˚ 3, opus 58 in B Minor in four movements featuring rolling chromatic phrasing and technical runs. Familiar to the general public is the Fantaisie-impromptu, opus 66 in C-sharp Minor that Lugansky moves in a brisk yet thoughtful tempo while the capricious Scherzo no˚ 4, opus 54 in E Major will delight any listener with its salient chords, nimble arpeggios and lyrical lines. Nikolai Lugansky glides through these resplendent contortions like a velvet sheen. The second fantaisie, Fantaisie, opus 49 in F Minor features music which Chopin created during one of his summer visits to Nohant with a staggering array of ever changing emotions and colored tones. A sister piece to Chopin’s ever popular Minute Waltz no˚ 1, opus 64 in D-flat Major is the moody Waltz no˚ 7, opus 64 in C-sharp Minor, no˚ 2 with its variety in pacing and lingering moments, well represented and accentuated to a comfortable level through the dexterous hands of the Russian pianist.

One never tires listening to the genius of Frédéric Chopin. The difficulties in mastering Chopin at the keyboard is an accomplishment for anyone. We can thank Onyx Classics for making this CD possible featuring a pianist who can read Chopin inside and out.

Christie Grimstad




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