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Mazurkas from Chopin to Adès
Dina Duisen (piano)
rec. 2014, Hall One, Kings Place, London
Private release [62:44]

Compendiums of mazurkas are becoming a recital trend, and I couldn’t be happier. In 2012, a Polish Mazurkas album was practically encyclopedic, offering 25 all-Polish composers of works written from 1810 to 1994. Now Dina Duisen presents 26 mazurkas, from 15 composers of numerous nationalities. This makes for a very entertaining recital and a very good CD.

First up are four classics by Chopin ... or is it five? The mazurka by Franz Liszt, immediately following, is stylistically identical, a very close and clear tribute. Camille Saint-Saëns, by contrast, goes off in a totally new direction: French, sophisticated, a little obtuse and weird.

Anton Arensky is another composer who opts to pay tribute to Chopin, and there are echoes of Liszt too. Debussy’s, however, is very characteristic of its composer, an absolute treat. Frederick Delius contributes one of the odder pieces on the album, an impressionistic mazurka that’s more harmonically daring and exotic than most of his orchestral music. Dina Duisen chooses to programme Scriabin’s later, more idiosyncratic works rather than his earlier Chopin homages.

Dina Duisen is a young Kazakh-born pianist based in London, who has studied with Hamish Milne, Kathryn Stott and Sergei Babayan. That’s a mighty impressive list of teachers and Duisen has clearly been a good student because her performances here are impeccable. Mazurkas require a careful adherence to the rhythm and the ability to convey emotion without getting caught in the rhythmic cogs. Duisen makes this sound easy; it almost sounds like she doesn’t know how impressive a feat this is.

That’s especially true when you consider that, although these are all mazurkas, the styles vary from Lyadov’s straightforward miniatures to Szymanowski’s highly chromatic re-imagination of the genre. By the way, her selection here is especially smart: she’s chosen two diametrically opposed Szymanowski pieces. There are three mazurkas by Thomas Adès, of which Duisen gave the Asian premiere. Of particular note: her Debussy. I wonder if she’d excel in a recital of his music.

For a self-released album, the recorded sound is very professional and indeed hard to fault at all. There is no booklet, however, nor is there any writing on the spine of the CD, so when you store it on your shelf, you’ll just see a blank. The inconvenience will be well worth your time if you want to enjoy this well-produced and very well-played collection of 25 mazurkas spanning from Chopin to the present day.

Brian Reinhart

Full track-listing

Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Mazurka in C-sharp minor, Op. 41 No. 1 [3:20]
Mazurka in C, Op. 24 No. 2 [2:21]
Mazurka in B flat, Op. 7 No. 1 [2:24]
Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
Mazurka brillante, S. 221 [4:56]
Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921)
Mazurka in G minor, Op. 24 [3:45]
Mazurka in B minor, Op. 66 [4:52]
Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Mazurka de Salon in D minor, Op. 9 No. 3 [3:22]
Mazurka in D minor, Op. 39 No. 11 [1:14]
Anatoly LYADOV (1855-1914)
Mazurka in F, Op. 38 [3:23]
Mazurka in F minor, Op. 57 No. 3 [1:11]
Isaac ALBÉNIZ (1860-1909)
Mazurka de salon Sofia, Op. 66 No. 4 [3:32]
Anton ARENSKY (1861-1906)
Mazurka in G, Op. 53 no. 4 [1:35]
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)
Mazurka in F-sharp minor, L. 67 [2:35]
Frederick DELIUS (1862-1934)
Mazurka [1:13]
Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957)
Mazurka in A, Op. 34 No. 3 [1:31]
Alexander SCRIABIN (1872-1915)
Two mazurkas, Op. 40 [3:29]
Reinhold GLIÈRE (1875-1956)
Three mazurkas, Op. 29 [4:12]
Karol SZYMANOWSKI (1882-1937)
Mazurka Op. 50, No. 13 [3:20]
Mazurka Op. 50, No. 14 [2:07]
Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)
Mazurka in B, Op. 12 No. 4 [1:32]
Thomas ADÈS (b.1971)
Three mazurkas, Op. 27 [6:49]



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