News & Reviews: Patria Productions

News & Reviews

Pianist Magazine - London - by Jessica Duchen

Marjan Kiepura is blessed with rather an exceptional heritage. His father, the Polish tenor Jan Kiepura, was a superstar of the operatic stage in the late 1920s - the leading role of Korngold's greatest opera, Das Wunder der Heliane, was created for him - and his mother, Marta Eggerth, was (indeed still is) an equally high-profile singer and film star. Kiepura's Polish ancestry is clearly important to him and emerges as a crucial factor in his approach to Chopin. This CD, produced by the pianist himself, consists largely of mazurkas, interspersed with two waltzes, the Nocturne Op. 9 no.2, the A major Polonaise and the 'Raindrop' Prelude: pieces at least partly motivated, he argues persuasively, by the exiled composer's nostalgia for his homeland.

Kiepura's playing is both compelling and committed. He has a good eye for detail and the imagination and intelligence to ensure that no repeated or reprised passage is played the same way twice, which is admirable. His rubato, like his phrasing, is subtle and eloquent, but not exaggerated - this is turned to particular advantage in the Nocturne, which can so often slide into sentimentality. The elusive mazurka rhythm is excellently assimilated, and the sense of nostalgia in the A minor Op 17 No 4, which closes the disc, is expressed in heart-stopping moments veiled by a surface directness. There are occasional idiosyncrasies - the Polonaise is rather stolid for my taste - and the recorded sound is not ideal, a little too close and slightly dry. But on the whole this CD makes a strong, individual and lasting impression.
Jessica Duchen

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