Chopin’s Nocturnes, though based on a form originated by John Field (1782-1837), are unique to the Polish genius. Their combination of technical intricacy and melodic invention make them a landmark in music. Chopin has transplanted the beauty and line of the Bellini bel canto aria to the piano – a percussion instrument! This magical transformation has not been managed by any other composer, no matter how gifted. Though mostly a miniaturist, Chopin’s stature places him among the very greatest of composers.
Everyone has recorded the Nocturnes. The Czech pianist Ivan Moravec (born 1930) stands out from almost all other interpreters of Chopin. He recorded the Nocturnes in 1966. These recordings made in New York and Vienna were immediately recognized as among the finest ever made. They did not receive the wide dissemination they deserved and did not make it to the CD format until recently. They were remastered in 2012 and are here released on the Supraphon label.
Moravec’s playing captures all the poetry that suffuses these short pieces. His technical command of them is so great that their extraordinary difficulties fade leaving the listener to focus only on the beauty that separates Chopin from virtually all other writers for the piano. Instrumentalists are always urged to sing. Moravec accomplishes this almost impossible task with an ease that marks him as one of the greatest interpreters of Chopin since the start of the recorded era. Here are the two opus 27 Nocturnes played by Moravec. From the first note you are in a world that only Chopin could invent.