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Date25-06-2011JournalAMG -
>>Frédéric Chopin's piano music is so well-known, it seems strange that a few of his works for solo piano are underplayed and may actually be unfamiliar to some listeners. The music he composed prior to 1830 during his years in Warsaw is certainly less famous than the music he wrote after his decisive move to Paris in 1832, which stimulated his career as a pianist and productivity as a composer. However, even though the early works may seem a little facile and superficial in comparison with the mature masterpieces, they clearly show Chopin's refined tastes and his preference for the Classical style, particularly that of Mozart. For this 2009 recording, pianist Costantino Mastroprimiano plays a Graf pianoforte that was made in Vienna in 1826, so the smaller sounding instrument gives an idea of what Chopin might have heard while playing his fledgling works for his first audiences. This piano has a slightly metallic quality and its action produces a soft clicking noise that is sometimes obvious in these performances, though as period keyboards go, this antique keyboard has a remarkably full-bodied tone that is easy for modern listeners to appreciate. There is little to be said in the way of interpretation, for Mastroprimiano plays the music with clean execution and proper early Romantic period style, but he avoids overplaying for effect or injecting too much personality, considering that the composer himself would have abhorred any signs of self-indulgence. Brilliant's sound is crisp and focused.
written byBlair Sanderson, Rovi

>>Questo CD è il risultato di una generosa ricerca tra le opere della giovinezza di Fryderyk Chopin (1810-1849). Si tratta di una collana di dodici pagine composte da Fryderyk tra gli undici e i diciannove anni - solo cinque delle quali con numero d’opera, le rimanenti pubblicate postume - che testimoniano, nella globalità, la sua limpida vocazione, non improvvisativa ma già formata alla musica e soprattutto alla tastiera: a prova si ascolti il sorprendente Rondò à la Mazur in fa mag. op.5, composto a sedici anni e pubblicato a Varsavia due anni dopo, intessuto di tutti i preziosismi della maturità ancora in boccio, che respira tutta la mattiniera ariosità dei modi che definiranno, anche con l’arricchimimento armonico, l’inconfondibile aureo conio del futuro. Oltre al Rondò figurano qui le tre adulte Polacche op.71 (1825-1828, ma pubblicate a Berlino nel 1855), il Rondò in do min. op.1 (1825), due Mazurche (1825-1826), la Polacca in si bem.min. (1826), e la Polacca in sol bem. magg. (1829); seguono le Variazioni in la magg. "Souvenir de Paganini" (su La Ricciatella, 1829, ma pubblicate a Varsavia nel 1881), e la trascrizione, semplice fino al candore, di "Casta Diva" dalla Norma di Bellini. La silloge è insomma esemplare ai fini dei tratti musicali dell’identità che Fryderyk definirà in futuro anche nel dolore, ma che qui si presentano - vezzi e profumi, ammiccamenti e impertinenze, scatti e dolcezze negli stacchi ritmici e in quelle flessibili melodie che attingono al divino - già innervati nella cultura sonora dello strumento. Che Mastroprimiano, sensibile evocatore, arricchisce di valori aggiunti, confrontandosi con un fortepiano viennese "Conrad Graf" (che piacerebbe a Paul Badura-Skoda) da cui trae non solo spessore di suono, ma anche il garrulo abbellimento nel porgere.
written byUmberto Padroni

Date01-02-2011JournalFanfare (USA)
>>These early Chopin works, including the composer’s op. 1 (the Rondo in C Minor), are all played on a Graf pianoforte from 1826, an instrument with a mellow but still sufficiently penetrating high end, a light tone in the bass, and evidently an easy action. I am not sure that the young Chopin was an innocent, but his music, such as the perky Mazurka in G, or the Rondo in C Minor mentioned above, certainly sounded that way. Chopin did not himself publish the mazurka or the one in B♭ or, for that matter, the three polonaises. The mazurkas are pleasing, formally stiff works, with none of the pathos and little of the formal interest of the later works. There is something of that pathos (our annotator calls it sentimentality) in the Polonaise in B♭-Minor, but it must be admitted that these pieces are the works of a genius, but a very young one. That said, I find this recording of unusual, even unlikely, Chopin works pleasing. Costantino Mastroprimiano never seems to be straining after Steinway grand effects; his playing of the fortepiano makes the most of the instrument’s capabilities. Many listeners will be interested in this disc.
written byMichael Ullman
>>Then the player is forced to do a great deal of research into treatises of the period to rediscover long-forgotten techniques of playing, techniques that would never work on the modern Steinway. Mr. Mastroprimiano’s work has obviously paid off. Constantino Mastroprimiano proves himself to be master of both the instrument and the music, and these performances are packed with youthful exuberance and panache.
written byKevin Sutton

Date01-11-2010JournalFanfare (USA)
>>Muzio Clementi was a supreme figure in the development of piano technique and music, influenced countless composers, and up until several decades ago would be represented on occasion by some of the best pianists. Mozart and Beethoven appare......ntly had opposite assessments of his music (against and for, respectively). In the intervening decades there have been two countervailing trends—he is seldom heard in the concert hall, yet his music (in all of its staggering volume) has been increasingly available on disc. There is a lot of chaff in Clementi’s output (how could it be otherwise with more than 100 sonatas?), so the listener has to wade through plenty of mediocre music to find the occasional gem, and that may be more the case with volumes such as these (and Howard Shelly’s fine set on Hyperion) that organize the works chronologically. Normally, I prefer this presentation, but in this case the only advantage would be for scholars who want to chart his significant progress through the years. There are some fine pieces here to be sure. Sonata No. 13 in F Minor has unexpected depth and surprising turns of phrase. Op. 12 has some inventive touches as well, though they are not evenly distributed throughout the sonatas. The succinct notes by the pianist point out certain interesting passages that foreshadow Beethoven, and make note of the composer’s harmonic invention, a trait I think to be slightly exaggerated. Costantino Mastroprimiano plays with crisp accuracy, and keeps tempos rather conservative, with only subtle use of rubato. He wisely doesn’t overplay his hand, and his remark that these sonatas can best be described as occasional and destined for amateur use is telling. The set is filled out with a reading of the Capriccio in B♭, a rather cutesy but virtuosic short piece, played with requisite playfulness by the pianist. This is a fine recording, probably of more use to the specialist and piano student than the general listener.
written byMichael Cameron