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The first volume of Emanuele Delucchi’s survey of Godowsky’s Chopin-based Études were released in 2017 to generally favourable reviews. This follow-up album completes the set, featuring Nos 23-53 (with alternative versions) derived from Chopin’s Op 25 and the three posthumous studies, described here as Trois Nouvelles Études. One of the great summits of pianistic complexity (to such a degree that it renders the word ‘difficult’ meaningless), there have not been a great number of recordings, that by Hamelin for Hyperion having established the benchmark in 1999. Rival sets – such as those by Ivan Ilić (Paraty), Carlo Grande (Music & Arts) and David Stanhope (Tall Poppies) – have not made the same impression, despite the formidable pianism of their executants.

Delucchi has the formidable technique necessary to tackle these works and the musicality to match, displaying an appreciation of Godowsky’s transcendental style of piano-writing as well as the original Chopin studies. Studies 35-36, corresponding to Chopin’s Op 25 Nos 5 and 6, and 41-42 (Op 25 Nos 10-11) are good examples of Delucchi’s feeling for line. Nos 35 in B-flat minor and 41 in B minor are two of several for lefthand alone – despite the torrents of notes. There is plenty of power and delicacy in his playing, too, though his interpretations are generally less involving than Hamelin’s, who found even more poetry in the music.

Delucchi suffers from a slightly airless acoustic which cramps his sound despite the best efforts of the engineers. An otherwise fine recording.

GUY RICKARDS Read the full review on Agora Classica


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