BBC Music Magazine - by Jeremy Siepmann
Images of a Homeland:
Chopin Mazurkas, Waltzes, etc.
Marjan Kiepura (piano)
Patria Productions KIE 2000 (distr.Complete)
Well recorded, imaginatively conceived and very sympathetically played, this release, Images of a Homeland, marks my first acquaintance with both the name and the artistry of Marjan Kiepura. As he puts it himself, 'It is my intent here to observe Chopin as a person deeply affected by influences which historians collectively acknowledge as reflecting thoughts of his homeland and the essence of his heritage - the Polish earth.' Many would argue that this applies to virtually everything Chopin wrote, and that the artist's chosen brief is thus so wide as to be meaningless. But the programme, dominated by mazurkas, with the odd waltz, nocturne, prelude and polonaise leavening the brew, is so well chosen and so persuasively played that such objections soon evaporate.
Kiepura is not a sentimentalist, and his portrait of Chopin the Pole is refreshingly robust - in some cases (the A minor Waltz, Op. 34/2, for instance) perhaps a little too much so. Particularly admirable is the naturalness and aptness of his rhythm - flexible, buoyant and poignantly expressive by turns (though the A major Polonaise is disappointingly four-square)-and his scrupulous avoidance of anything smacking even vaguely of banging is equally welcome. All in all a most attractive release.