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CHOPIN: 16 Mazurkas; Waltzes: Op 34 no 2, Op 70 no 2;
Nocturne Op 9 No 2;
Prelude in D flat Op 28 no 15; Polonaise in A Op 40 no 1
Marjan Kiepura: Piano
Patria Productions KIE 2000

Marjan Kiepura, the son of the legendary Polish tenor Jan Kiepura and the Hungarian soprano Marta Eggerth, has had a notable musical education in the USA. This, his first CD, is most welcome, not least for displaying a laudable attempt to rethink much of the received opinion about playing Chopin in this day and age.

Not that Marjan Kiepura's approach seeks to impose his own personality on music that is very familiar; rather does he look to emphasise the essentially Polish aspects of Chopin's work. This is not easy, especially when we consider Chopin's early musical life and the fact that Warsaw in the 1820s was little more than a large town on the edge of Eastern Europe, cut off from the mainstream of culture, which Chopin soon left, never to return. None the less, there is equally little doubt that Chopin's musical character, if not quite his technical ability, was fully formed by this time, a statement confirmed by Schumann, so Marjan Kiepura is on solid ground in seeking to define Chopin's Polish provenance in his interpretations.

In this regard he is very successful. There is that curiously fascinating blend of early romantic ardour, technical innovation, youthful power and aristocratic poise, all expressed through a creativity founded upon a deep knowledge of Bach, in itself exceptional in those days, which lies at the heart of Chopin's work and which Marjan Kiepura is able to reveal in a recital based upon a large selection of Mazurkas.

Whilst not abjuring the essentially Polish right-hand line in spinning a melody as if it were sung, the underlying strength of Chopin's creations is admirably conveyed. This may not be too everybody's taste but it is musically, highly convincing and I commend this CD to all Chopin lovers, especially those to whom yet another recital from a debut recording artist might seem less than appealing. The recording is excellent and Marjan Kiepura's booklet notes are both informative and clearly the work of a thoughtful musician.
Robert Matthew Walker

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