Historical interpretations of Friderick Chopin works

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Robert Casadesus - skill characteristics


Recordings of Robert Casadesus exemplify the art of pianists of the mid-twentieth century who aimed at so-called "objective playing" – musical narration is dominated by long phrases, details of the tempo are planned from more distant perspective, accompaniment is not limited to harmonic background and it counterpoints melody. The listener should have a feeling that the work exists as a separate entity independent from its performer. It is achieved by humble and accurate realization of the printed note and refraining from introducing own textual variants.

His rendering of Ballade in G minor, op. 23 is so coherent that this epic work is transformed into almost a miniature. First theme is played as mazurka, the second delights with simplicity, and the bridge passage becomes stormy as it is accelerated, which leads to the emergence of a long phrase. Quasi-theatrical gesture appears only in the final episode with scales. This work (Columbia LMX 1661) occupies two sides of the record; it ends after the first chord of the second theme of the development, repeated on the other side of the record.

Lyrical parts in Ballade in F major, op. 38 (Columbia LFX 166) are played by Casadesus with tempo and articulation of a nursery rhyme – almost without tempo rubato; it should attract interest of those who enjoy focusing on subtle nuances. Dramatic character of stormy fragments is based on the fact that left hand phrases are formed as clear questions and answers. In the coda of Ballade in F major the pianist breaks with tradition and plays it in much the same tempo (it is fast, as the narration of this work is very fluent) as the stormy fragments.

Sonata in B minor, op. 58 is played with moderation, accuracy and strictly according to the score (CBS S 61543). Casadesus does not repeat exposition of the first movement and its development is closer to a narrative of tragedy than the tragedy itself. Moreover, the simplicity of his cantilena singing in the second theme is superb. In the middle section of volatile Scherzo he builds long phrases, emphasizing all layers of polyphonic texture. In the theme of Largo he softens punctuated rhythm in order to accurately present time proportions of the score. The first theme is delightfully differentiated in the recapitulation starting from its appearance at the beginning of the section. In Finale Casadesus clearly presents dense accompaniment of consecutive refrains and plays the final fanfare with great simplicity – without grandiloquence – with bright tone, almost rhythmically.

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