Summer in Nohant

0 of 5 stars

Ballade No.3 in A flat, Op.47
Mazurkas, Op.41 – in E minor; in B; in A flat; in C sharp minor
Mazurkas, Op.59 – in A minor; in A flat; in F sharp minor
Nocturnes, Op.48 – in C minor; in F sharp minor
Nocturnes, Op.55 – in F minor; in E flat
Polonaise in A flat, Op.53
Polonaise-fantaisie, Op.61

Ian Jones (piano)

Recorded on 25-27 August 2004 in Nybrokajen 11 (the former Academy of Music), Stockholm

Reviewed by: Colin Anderson

Reviewed: February 2007
Duration: 75 minutes

This is fluent and sensitive Chopin-playing. The biography for Ian Jones included in the booklet describes him as a “Steinway Artist” (he plays a Model ‘D’ on this recording), but is not forthcoming about his nationality (one assumes he is English). He appears to be the right side of 40 (!) and is a much-travelled prize-winner, the latter including an accolade in the 1993 Leeds International Pianoforte Competition.

Chopin wrote all the music included here during summers spent at George Sand’s country residence in Nohant (France). A fine sense of line, volatility and rapt concentration informs Ian Jones’s performances. In the Mazurkas he brings out the vitality of the dance; the Ballade is cohesive while still being malleable; and the Nocturnes are raptly brought off, the climaxes headily reached. The A flat Polonaise is superbly brought off, with poise and nobility, and unforced, the disruptive middle section a model of clarity but with no lack of heft. The Polonaise-fantaisie is also very attractively integrated; this is a piece that can meander, but Jones’s success is that the dance and fantasy elements are convincingly welded into a definable structure. Throughout, Jones’s shapely phrasing and well-modulated contrasts afford a fresh and rewarding take on music that is all too easy to become over-familiar with.

With the reservation that the recorded sound could be slightly less resonant and the treble register smoother, there is much to admire here. Certainly Jones outguns a number of better-known rivals in this repertoire; this is a release that will be a pleasure to return to.

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