Musical Opinion

Not so long ago Bernard d’Ascoli lived in London and I relished hearing him, particularly enjoying his highly personal interpretations of Chopin’s major works. He now lives in France and I am delighted to say is recording on the Athene label. The four Scherzi, so immediately enjoyable in their own right, offer a wholly different experience when heard as a continuous set. Chopin’s choice for titles for his works, often criticised as arbitrary, show how practical his imagination could be in communicating to both players and listeners when the families are brought together by a sensitive and technically assured musician. On this well presented CD the eight tracks can be picked at random and thoroughly enjoyed individually as full blooded Chopin gems, packed with excitement and gorgeous lyricism. On the other hand, play the four Scherzi or the four Impromptus consecutively and d’Ascoli brings you as close to Chopin’s intentions as could be possible. Not that either set becomes a four movement single structure; rather do these accounts prove that each belongs to the other three and so, when heard together, bring a unique extra ingredient to the whole.

Nevertheless, do play them as individuals as well as sets. Soak in Bernard d’Ascoli’s delight in flinging his deft fingers into dramatic bouts of virtuosity, yet never losing the overall shape and purpose of the musical architecture. By the way, I am reliably informed that we will soon have a double CD of the complete Nocturnes from the d’Ascoli stable. These I must hear!

—Denby Richards