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Korean pianist Sonya Bach is a major new voice. This is a remarkable set of Chopin Etudes, following on from her recording of Bach Keyboard Concertos. She sometimes points out Chopin’s pre- echoes of Impressionism within these remarkable works. Her approach is non- confrontational, so that the C major of Op 10 is fluid rather than strong. The E major (No 3) is a song, while the C-sharp minor (No 4) rivals Pollini’s famous account for virtuosity.

Overall, this is perhaps the most sophisticated and thoughtful recording of the Chopin Etudes in recent times. Although Bach’s tempi are generally relatively rapid, this does not affect the emotional power she projects (the E-flat minor Op 10/6 a case in point). She has a lovely singing lefthand in the E minor from Op 25, and by highlighting the right-hand’s ‘decorations’ she makes it sound more Debussian; we also hear that proto-Impressionism strongly in the C-sharp minor (Op 25/7).

If ever there was a set of Etudes that proved these are not just studies, this is it; how lovely to have the Nouvelles Etudes, too. Excellent booklet notes by IP contributor Jeremy Nicholas. A major release.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica


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