Review by: Jed Distler
Artistic Quality: 8
Sound Quality: 8
In my review of Emanuele Delucchi’s first of two projected CDs devoted to Leopold Godowsky’s complete studies based on the Chopin Etudes, I cited the Italian pianist’s “comfort with and absorption of Godowsky’s serpentine idiom”. These words similarly apply to Volume 2, which feature Godowsky’s transformations of Chopin’s Op. 25 originals and the Three Nouvelles Etudes, plus Godowsky’s ingenuous conflation of Chopin’s Op. 10 No. 11 and Op. 25 No. 3 pieces.
By and large, Delucchi proves a more gentle and yielding Godowsky interpreter when measured alongside Carlo Grante’s firmly etched filigree and Marc-André Hamelin’s supple élan. This observation is partially informed by the choice of instrument, a restored 1906 Steinway Model D, which lacks the power and heft characertizing more recent Steinways, yet compensates by way of lightness and colorful timbres.
Highlights include Delucchi’s agile polyphonic balancing throughout Op. 25 No. 2 arranged for left hand alone, his varied articulation and discreet pedaling of the Op. 25 No. 5 “alla Mazurka”, and his forthright and fluid dispatch of the trio in the left-hand etude based on Op. 25 No. 10.
He doesn’t quite attain Hamelin’s effortless paradigm insofar as the left hand taking over the “Winter Wind” Etude’s stormy passagework, or Op. 25 No. 6’s infamous double thirds. And given his lyrical proclivities, I was slightly disappointed by Delucchi’s pianistically well-groomed yet slightly square readings of two sublime favorites: the E major transformation of the A-flat Nouvelle Etude and the intricate “Aeolian Harp” makeover. Yet Delucchi’s high craft and devotion to this repertoire deserve attention, without, however, displacing Hamelin’s reference edition nor Grante’s formidable Chopin/Godowsky cycle on Altarus, which may be hard to source.
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Recording Details:Reference Recording: Hamelin (Hyperion)
- GODOWSKY, LEOPOLD:Studies on Chopin’s Etudes Nos. 23-48
- Emanuele Delucchi (piano)
- Piano Classics - 10182