Discover Chopin's early genius

Pianist Nebolsin accompanied by the Warsaw Phil and their conductor Antoni Wit refresh Chopin's early orchestral works

Composer:  Chopin
Repertoire: Piano Concerto No. 2; Variations on a theme from Mozart’s Don Giovanni; Andante spianato and Grande Polonaise brilliante
Artists: Eldar Nebolsin (pf), Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra/Antoni Wit
Rating: 3/5 
Genre: Orchestral 
Label: Naxos 8.572336

The Music All of Chopin’s music with orchestra was written when he was a young composer trying to make his name, before his solo piano music then made him one of Romanticism’s all-time greats. Even so, there’s no mistaking that here is a young genius at work. 

The Performance The Warsaw Philharmonic and their conductor Antoni Wit must have accompanied the Second Piano Concerto many dozens of times, but you wouldn’t think so from their fresh, anti-routine way with the concerto’s orchestral introduction. The octane-level drops when Nebolsin joins in. Although a fluent, stylish, technically impressive pianist, he doesn’t make much happen: the second movement’s beautiful, intricately-decorated lyricism just doesn’t take wing. Fortunately Nebolsin is in much more live-wire form in the sparklingly inventive Mozart variations, and in the Andante spianato (‘spun’ Andante) and Grande Polonaise. 

The Verdict While Nebolsin’s contribution in the Second Concerto doesn’t measure up to the fearsome competition in other recordings, his and the orchestra’s excellent way with the other two works is well worth a listen. 

Want more? Martha Argerich’s peerless performances of both of Chopin’s two Piano Concertos are recommended on EMI Classics (503 1422).