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Jacques Loussier: Solo Piano: Impressions on Chopin’s Nocturnes

The Romantic composer Frederic Chopin wrote primarily piano music, music that calls for the subtlest nuances of color, attack and tone from the instrument. For that reason, Jacques Loussier decided to excuse the trio-mates who usually accompany him on his forays into the classical repertoire and come alone with his Steinway on Solo Piano: Impressions on Chopin’s Nocturnes (Telarc). The decision shows an understanding of Chopin’s music, as does Loussier’s playing; his minor rephrasings in the fourth nocturne show close attention to the characteristic shape of Chopin’s melodies. Dismantling the original nocturne entirely, though, makes for more fun: the second and most famous nocturne begins with gentle shadings but accelerates into a romp by the end; the 13th dissolves into pointillistic, jittery two-voice polyphony; and Loussier injects a whiff of flamenco into the 20th and a large dose of stride piano into the 21st. If you lack any knowledge of Chopin this album will sound like 21 short pieces unified by an elevated lyricism and fine-toned playing but with occasional wild stylistic excursions; thus, Impressions on Chopin’s Nocturnes could interest classical and jazz fans alike.

Originally Published