Margarita Höhenrieder | Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 1 in E Minor, Op. 11, B. 53 & Mazurkas Review
by Illiam Sebitz
Margarita Höhenrieder has released her latest Solo Musica album, Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 1 in E Minor, Op. 11, B. 53 & Mazurkas. Höhenrieder searched for an authentic sound of Frédéric Chopin’s piano works. In addition, she searched for an instrument to reflect Chopin’s music most convincingly, a question to which Chopin himself answered in 1831: “Pleyel’s instruments are the non plus ultra!” Therefore, the choice for the recording fell on a Pleyel fortepiano, built in Paris around 1855 and expertly restored using historical materials and methods. It is identical in construction to the instrument that Chopin owned and thus represents an authentic sound testimony. The recording location was also of particular importance: the mazurkas on the CD were recorded on this instrument in a room comparable to a salon from around the middle of the 19th century. The orchestra “La Scintilla” also played historical instruments under the direction of Riccardo Minasi. The recording of the E minor concerto with the historical version by Jan Ekier then took place on another Pleyel of about the same year of manufacture in the acoustically excellent Oberstrass church in Zurich.
Opening with the dramatic sounds of the Piano Concerto No. 1 in Eminor, Op. 11, B. 53: “1. Allegro maestoso,” we are treated to the balanced and flowing sounds of the Orchestra La Scintilla. Minasi keeps the pulse moving and pays close attention to dynamics. After four minutes, the piano dynamically makes its introduction. Höhenrieder’s touch is expressive, and her technique is flawless. Her attention to capturing the piano sound of Chopin can be heard, making this recording a breath of fresh air. Chopin spent much time and energy to carefully and deliberately orchestrate the orchestra to fit in with the sound of the piano, and the simplicity of arrangement is in deliberate contrast to the complexity of the harmony and passages of the piano part.
The bulk of the album is the 10 Mazurkas, on which Höhenrieder will surprise you with her interpretations. Her spontaneity and creative accents push the pieces into new and refreshing expressions. Sample all the Mazurkas, but start with G minor Op. 24 No. 1 and C major Op. 24 No. 2 to instantly hear how Höhenrieder has breathed new inflections into the themes that will keep you engaged and marveling at her lyricism.
Margarita Höhenrieder’s careful recreation of the authentic Chopin sound grants the listener fascinating insights into the history of music. The ten Mazurkas presented will undoubtedly be added to your collection, and you will instantly desire her to record the remaining Chopin Mazurkas. The period-instrument-based Orchestra La Scintilla marries with the Pleyel fortepiano for a compelling reading of the Piano Concerto No. 1 in E Minor, Op. 11, B. 53. Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 1 in E Minor, Op. 11, B. 53 & Mazurkas is a must have for classical music lovers, especially ones that love and know Chopin.
Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 1 in E Minor, Op. 11, B. 53 & Mazurkas
Release Date: November 4, 2022
Label: Solo Musica