Sometimes liner notes can make a difference. In the booklet for this release, Stephen Wigler suggested that Chopin’s Op. 28 Preludes might be considered a single cycle comprised of very short works, as opposed to a collection of 24 self-contained preludes.
While they certainly work as the former, the idea that each prelude was part of a larger whole gave me insight into Horacio Gutiérrez’s performance. And what a performance!
Gutiérrez, as befitting an artist with such a long career, plays with a comfortable familiarity. Technical difficulties have been mastered long ago — what’s important is the underlying musicality, and that’s what Gutiérrez brings to the fore.
Listening to the set as a single continuous work helped me understand some of his interpretive choices. Each prelude seemed to flow logically into the other.
The “Raindrops” prelude is slow, but not too slow. It provides a satisfying balance between the allegro of the D-flat minor prelude before it, and the presto con fuoco outburst of the B-flat minor that follows.
The Schumann Fantasie, Op. 17 is played with the same mature sensitivity. It’s a beautiful performance that I’ll be returning to again and again.
Frederic Chopin: 24 Preludes, Op. 28
Robert Schumann, Fantasie, Op. 17
Horacio Gutiérrez, piano
Bridge Records 9479