Chopin Unwrapped

Review of Martino Tirimo playing Chopin

Most pianists try to make Chopin their own in some way, bringing to his music elements the composer never asked for. Chopin was distinctly unamused by this tendency during his lifetime, once ­famously upbraiding Liszt for playing fast and loose with a Nocturne. On the eve of his 200th birthday, with virtuosi queuing up to dazzle ­audiences with the fleetness of their fingers, there is nothing­ to suppose it should be ­otherwise today. In fact, rumours of a dynamo installation in Père Lachaise graveyard (to put the spinning composer to some profitable use) should not be discounted.

Good then that Kings Place's birthday present comes in the form of a complete­ works concert series curated and largely performed by Martino Tirimo, a dutiful antidote to generations of performance malpractice. In his opening concert, Tirimo explored the contrast between the salon style of the Op. 9 Nocturnes with the more demonstrative ­framework of works such as the Allegro de Concert and Polonaise-Fantaisie. Seeking­ also to introduce something of the unknown Chopin, Tirimo also began with a G minor Polonaise written when the composer was only seven. The work, interesting because its dance structure is for once entirely unobscured, was introduced as "one of the greatest achievements of mankind" – a rare instance of Tirimo gilding the composer's lily.

Tirimo was at his best for Chopin's more intimate pieces: the Nocturnes were exemplary, and the airier, more mysterious Op. 17 Mazurkas fared better than the more grandiose Op. 50 set. Best of all was the marvellous 1848 Berceuse. Composed during a time of political ­turmoil, the piece features right-hand filigree, slowed and stripped down over a rocking accompaniment. The brilliance and glitter are gone, leaving beauty's glowing husk in their place.

Popular Posts