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“Chopin the Enchanter”
Frédéric Chopin: Ballade n° 4 in F minor, opus 52 – Mazurka in A minor, opus 17, n° 4 – Mazurka in A minor, opus 7, n° 2 – Mazurka in A minor, opus 68, n° 2 (post) – Etude in A-Flat major, opus 25, n° 1 – Mazurka in G-Sharp minor, opus 33, n° 1 – Mazurka in G minor, opus 67, n° 2 (post) – Mazurka in F-Sharp minor, opus 6, n° 1 – Prélude n° 10 in C-Sharp minor, opus 63, n° 3 – Mazurka in D major, opus 33, n° 2 – Nocturne in E-Flat major, opus 9, n° 2 – Mazurka in C major, opus 67, n° 3 (post) – Mazurka in A minor, opus 67, n° 4 (post) – Mazurka in C major, opus 24, n° 2 – Prélude n° 18 in F minor, opus 28 – Etude in F minor, opus 25, n° 2 – Mazurka in F minor, opus 68, n° 4 (post) – Mazurka in B-Flat minor, opus 24, n° 4 – Mazurka in B-Flat major, opus 7, n° 1 – Mazurka in B minor, opus 33, n° 4 – Prélude n° 4 in E minor, opus 28 – Waltz in C-Sharp minor, opus 64, n° 2 – Prélude in A major, n° 7, opus 28 – Fantasie-Impromptu in C-Sharp minor, opus 66

Irina Feoktistova (piano)
Recording: WFMT Radio Studio, Chicago, Illinois (2010-2011) – 78’13
MSR Classics MS 1776 – Booklet in English

Playing Chopin is like following the thread of Ariadne, catching the mood and never letting it go, observing all the intricate changes and nuances, allowing myself to be enchanted and mesmerized by the subtle beauty of the thoughts and feelings transformed into music by this poet of the piano.” Irina Feoktistova

Analogous to the multitudinous labyrinths created by the mythological Greek princess, Ariadne, Frédéric Chopin’s music is also a magnanimous journey of twists and turns. St. Petersburg Conservatory-trained Irina Feoktistova has revealed her utmost admiration and devotion to these compositions by giving her own personal stamp of affection that is, deservedly, well-appointed.

Chopin’s improvisational nature allows countless opportunities to address his innermost feelings. With all selections being hand-picked by the pianist, it’s not surprising to discover “Chopin the Enchanter” heavily devoted to the mazurka, the Polish dance which Chopin can stake claim to inventing. While Mlle Feoktistova’s élan is, at times, assertive, her approaches are refreshing. Use of accents in her notes are particularly firm and resolute that are quickly discernable early on in the CD during the Mazurka in A minor. This technique strongly surfaces in the Mazurka in F-Sharp minor, an œuvre which depicted Chopin’s disappointment in having to move to France during the Polish occupation; the pianist gives a kinetic kick inside the Mazurka in C major. Mazurka in B-Flat major is guided by a lining of delectable iridescence and quixotic flair.

Suppleness and softness of roulades found during the Etude in A-Flat major permeate the ear beautifully and blissfully blend with striking detail. Lovely. In the same genre, the Etude in F minor gives strong testament to Mlle Feoktistova’s technical prowess.

Some of the pianist’s conveyances are rather startling, however: the Nocturne in E-Flat major has deeper forwardness and ambition by pushing too hard on the delicate edging of this pensive piece. Quirky comes to mind when encountering the Mazurka in D major in which the dynamics fall onto a limb of impulsiveness; the familiar Waltz in C-Sharp minor has much more legato and comes across as being dense. The closing Fantaisie-Impromptu simply gathers too much momentum and the resultant broadly reaches into grandiloquent testiness.

Irina Feoktistova has strong feelings about how she connects to Frédéric Chopin, and this CD has some intriguing qualities and nuances throughout.

Christie Grimstad




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