Musical Opinion

To listen to the complete cycle of Chopin’s Nocturnes is to follow the composer’s creative genius from 1827, when he set down the C minor, which was not published until 1938, to 1846 with the pair in opus 62 in B major and E major. He took the form, of course, from the Dublin composer John Field, although bringing it into the realm of genius. Indeed, listening to this music, written between the ages of 17 and 36, is to dip into the life of a truly remarkable musician.

Most of the Nocturnes were intended as individual items, even those published as companions under a single Opus. Chopin, certainly, would not have considered playing them all, or even those he composed up to the date of certain concerts. Nevertheless, listening to them in a darkened room played chronologically is a fascinating and stimulating experience, made more so when the pianist has obviously considered projecting them as an extended experience. This Bernard d’Ascoli most certainly does, bringing his deep experience of Chopin scores, with an assured and brilliant technique and a natural sense of poetry and sound to each Nocturne.

These 2 CD’s are a joy to hear, each bringing not only an individual lyrical flow of melodic beauty but allowing Chopin’s unexpected dramatic interruptions to make the pulse run faster and the blood seem warmer as these unique gems arrive, give their message and depart. Can we have more d’Ascoli Chopin soon!

—Denby Richards