Frédéric (Fryderyk) CHOPIN (1810-1849) Études Opus 10 and Opus 25
Details after review
Matthew Cameron (piano) Download only. ARABESQUE RECORDS Z6875 [66:29]
I was pleased to have a further opportunity to hear and review the latest
offering from the virtuoso pianist Matthew Cameron. His earlier recording
for Arabesque, Romantic Favorites, featured Chopin, Liszt and
some of his own compositions (Z6833 – DL
News 2013/14) and I also reviewed and liked his Liszt recording
for Cala (DL
Each of the Chopin Études concentrates on a particular
aspect of piano technique and the set as a whole can be performed only
by pianists who have mastered every problem associated with piano playing.
This new recording of the complete Études confirms that Matthew
Cameron is well up to the task involved, but not only technically, because
this work requires a performer who understands the musical implications
which will make the complete set convincing as a satisfying and magnificent
In the first Étude of Opus 10 I felt that the recorded balance
was rather too weighted to the left hand, and you can really hear the
difference if you compare this with the glittering semiquavers in Murray
Perahia’s performance on Sony Classics (review)
but I liked Cameron’s dynamic variety, especially his soft playing,
and his judicious pedalling. Cameron’s singing tone is apparent in the
main theme of the third Étude which has a light and delicate
semiquaver accompaniment. The occasional note (e.g. the second semiquaver
in bar 1) can barely be heard but the music has a nice flow and I liked
the elegiac quality of the return of the main theme. At the poco
più animato, Cameron builds his climaxes well as his virtuosity
comes to the fore.
In Étude No.4, he employs his virtuoso technique to scintillating
effect and every semiquaver is perfectly in place. Chopin’s dynamic
and expression marks are carefully observed and Matthew Cameron makes
an exciting conclusion to the piece. He gives a convincing and moving
performance of Étude No.6, exploiting the expressive qualities
of the piece to the full. After building to a fine climax, his return
to the melancholy and sadness of the opening is very touching. I prefer
this to the quicker and emotionally rather uninvolved version by Murray
Cameron is again slower than Perahia in No.7 which is marked vivace,
but this allows for greater clarity in the texture, resulting in a more
musical performance. Perahia produces a more powerful climax at the
end of the piece where it is marked fortissimo, but again I prefer
Cameron’s approach to this piece. In Étude No.8, Cameron’s right
hand is scintillating in its clarity. This is very difficult to play
but the musical shape of the phrasing in the left hand is always maintained.
I am not convinced by Cameron’s pianissimo ending! At this point
Perahia plays fortissimo, as marked by Chopin.
Étude No.9 in F minor is a melancholic piece but Cameron gives
it a nice swing. He begins with a light touch, and subtle pedalling
throughout contributes to the success of this performance. The musical
line is always maintained in Étude No.11 in spite of the technical
difficulties presented by the arpeggiated chords. This is a delicate
and attractive performance.
Opus 10 concludes with the famous Revolutionary Study. This is
a fast and furious virtuoso performance, although somewhat idiosyncratic. Sometimes the left-hand semiquavers cannot be clearly heard at
this speed but maybe this is a deliberate effect. Occasionally the pedalling
seems a bit arbitrary, adding a touch of blurriness here and there,
for example from bar 73 where the music almost seems to come to a halt
at one place. I wondered why Cameron adds an extra chord in bar 55!
Istvan Szekely on Amadis plays with great clarity in spite of the fast
tempo, but he lacks imagination and his recording is rather boxy. Masako
Ezaki on Triton is true to the text, but the master here is Perahia
whose thrilling performance has everything: excitement, flair and panache
combined with clarity and subtlety of expression.
Matthew Cameron’s performance of Opus 25 No.1 is characterised by beautifully
shaped phrases, and in spite of extremes of rubato when once
or twice the music almost comes to a halt, the flow is nevertheless
maintained. It is preferable to Niu Niu who is well-recorded on Warner
Classics but comparatively uninspired, although traditional sounding
and accurate. Andrei Gavrilov’s performance on Warner Classics (review)
is similar but more interesting.
Cameron plays the triplet quavers of No.2 with a light touch, and I
particularly like the melodic shaping of the middle section in No.5
where the left-hand melody is nicely balanced by the right-hand triplets
and semiquavers. He has better control over the evenness of tone in
the outer sections than Gavrilov, and his central section is more convincing.
The difficult right-hand semiquavers in thirds present no problem for
Cameron in Étude No.6, which he plays with attractive tone and
phrasing. No.7 is a truly elegiac masterpiece and provides the central
pivot for the Opus 25 set. Perahia’s performance is very fine indeed,
but Cameron’s performance is considerably slower and imbued with deep
feeling and passion. I much enjoyed this superb performance which proves
beyond doubt that the Études are so much more than mere pianistic
showpieces. Cameron plays with refinement of touch and beautiful tone
and he builds the music to a magnificent climax at fff before
reaching the conclusion with its final sense of resignation.
No.8, in sixths, is played with a variety of touch and an attractive,
light non-legato in softer playing. I find Perahia’s recording
preferable here with his more consistently even legato.
I particularly like the phrasing and expressive qualities in the central
nocturne-like passage of No.10 in octaves, where Cameron sometimes pushes
the inner voices through the texture attractively. There is much poetry
to be enjoyed here.
No.11 is one of the longest and most virtuosic of the Études
and it requires consistent stamina. Cameron plays magnificently and
I liked the idea of adding a few extra soft passages to those marked
by Chopin. Niu Niu’s virtuosity is outstanding, but again the performance
seems rather cold and uninteresting. Finally, Cameron’s performance
of the whirlwind drama of No.12 is well-focused and, whilst being faithful
to the text, is full of ideas.
My benchmark recording of these works remains that by Murray Perahia
and his recording is outstanding. The piano tone is warmer than that
on Arabesque for Cameron and this dryness sometimes results in hardness
of tone, especially in very loud, left had octaves and chords. But Matthew
Cameron’s Chopin playing is of the highest order and well worth hearing.
Mr. Cameron shows that he is young musician with much to offer, always
poetic and expressive as well as virtuosic. He puts his own stamp on
his performances, and this recording is up there with the very best
I had intended to add a few words to Geoffrey Molyneux’s review, but
he has covered this recording in such professional detail, as usual,
that there is very little for me to add. I’m by no means a Chopin expert
but I enjoyed this recording as much as he did, even by comparison with
Murray Perahia (Sony 88843062432, 6 CDs, budget price – review
and, I would add, my other benchmark, Maurizio Pollini (DG Originals
4793768, mid-price, or E4630512, with Ballades (Zimerman), Sonata
No.2 (Ugorski), etc., download only). It is possible still to purchase
the Perahia recording separately as a download but the whole 6-CD set
costs little more: for example, in lossless sound from Qobuz, the separate
album costs £10.29, the
6-disc set only £12.89.
We received the recording for review as web files; I’m not sure at what
bit-rate. I also listened to the streamed version from Qobuz and the
small reservations about recording balance remain, even as heard from
there. The Arabesque web-site gives a link to Amazon (US) where the
album can be downloaded in mp3 for $8.99 but Amazon downloads tend to
be at no better than 256 kb/s, so UK and European readers should be
better advised to sample and purchase in lossless sound from Qobuz
for the same price (£7.99) that Amazon UK charge for mp3. Qobuz subscribers
can stream the whole album before purchase; others can sample. No-one
offers the booklet, which leaves me unable to give a recording date.
Details: Étude Op.10/1 in C [2:07] Étude Op.10/2 in a minor [1:36] Étude Op.10/3 in E [4:44] Étude Op.10/4 in c sharp minor [2:03] Étude Op.10/5 in G flat [1:45] Étude Op.10/6 in e flat minor [3:32] Étude Op.10/7 in C [1:43] Étude Op.10/8 in F [3:37] Étude Op.10/9 in f minor [2:27] Étude Op.10/10 in A flat [2:46] Étude Op.10/11 in E flat [3:00] Étude Op.10/12 in c minor [2:56] Étude Op.25/1 in A flat [3:04] Étude Op.25/2 in f minor [1:43] Étude Op.25/3 in F [2:09] Étude Op.25/4 in a minor [1:59] Étude Op.25/5 in e minor [3:46] Étude Op.25/6 in g sharp minor [2:24] Étude Op.25/7 in c sharp minor [6:14] Étude Op.25/8 in D flat [1:14] Étude Op.25/9 in G flat [1:05] Étude Op.25/10 in b minor [1:41] Étude Op.25/11 in a minor [3:58] Étude Op.25/12 in c minor [2:53]