Mursky’s Murky Chopin Sonatas

Review by: Jed Distler

mursky chopin sonatas

Artistic Quality: 5

Sound Quality: 7

Forty years ago my colleague Harris Goldsmith reviewed Alfred Brendel’s Chopin playing with an opening sentence that read “Occupied Poland!” That rather harsh assessment often comes to mind as you hear Eugene Mursky steamrolling his way through the coda of the B minor sonata Finale, or reducing its Scherzo’s supple lightness to matter-of-fact note spinning. The earnest, student-ish counterpoint in the rarely-heard C minor sonata’s first movement sounds best when sung out in the manner of Leif Ove Andsnes or Nikita Magaloff, yet it’s downright ugly when reduced to undifferentiated monochrome textures à la Eugene Mursky. He uses lots of sustain pedal in the B-flat minor’s cryptic finale, and broadens the final chords rather than playing them in tempo, thereby ruining Chopin’s intended sense of sudden surprise. At least the B-flat minor’s Funeral March and B minor’s Largo feature well-considered tempos and more than a modicum of sensitive phrasing. Otherwise, look elsewhere for charm, poetry, and stylish nuance. An unappetizing disc.

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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: The Three Chopin Sonatas: Katsaris (Sony); Sonata No. 1: Andsnes (Virgin); Sonata No. 2: Pletnev (Virgin); Sonata No. 3: Argerich (DG)

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