Véronique Bonnecaze’s Chopin Etudes

Review by: Jed Distler


Artistic Quality: 8

Sound Quality: 9

Paraty has resuscitated Véronique Bonnecaze’s recording of the Chopin Etudes that originally appeared in 2000 on the long-defunct Arcobaleno label. The pianist’s generally moderate tempos give room for her ample sonority and forceful melodic projection to register. The E minor Op. 25 No. 5’s arching cantabiles and full-bodied chord voicings bear this out, as do the F minor Op. 10 No. 9’s shapely left-hand arpeggios and emphatic accents, and the A minor “Winter Wind” Op. 25 No. 11’s majestic sweep.

One might wish for greater lightness and scintillation throughout the G-flat “Butterfly” Op. 25 No. 9 or in the C major Op. 10 No. 7’s alternating thirds and sixths, along with less predictable end-of-phrase ritards in the E-flat major Op. 10 No. 11. On the other hand, the C major Op. 10 No. 1’s extended arpeggios flow flexibly and organically over a booming left-hand cantus firmus, while in the A-flat “Aeolian Harp” Op. 25 No. 1 piece, Bonnecaze creates a sonorous, long-lined landscape. In the F major Op. 10 No. 8, many pianists focus on the right-hand runs going up and down the keyboard yet ignore the left hand’s important counterlines. Bonnecaze, however, not only accounts for all of the notes, but “orchestrates” them with consummate care. That Bonnecaze’s Chopin Etudes largely hold their own in the face of formidable catalog competition is no small achievement.

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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: Zayas (Music & Arts); Cziffra (EMI); Ashkenazy (Decca)

  • Véronique Bonnecaze (piano)

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