There are a few things in life that I particularly dislike, in no particular order some of these are spiders, rice pudding and roller-coasters, but one thing that I passionately dislike is classical guitar music. Infact I loathe it. In my view the guitar is an instrument much better suited to pop/jazz music and should be limited to gigs and the recording studio. Last week I was listening to Classic FM and heard what should be the beautiful Chopin Nocturne Op 9 No 2 in Eb major rearranged for guitar - it was truly awful. So to make amends this week the recording I recommend is one containing all Chopin Nocturnes by the fabulous Portuguese pianist Joao Maria Pires played as they should be - on the piano.
Frederic Chopin (1810-1849) was a composer who made the piano the essential instrument of the 19th century, out of the 200 works he wrote, 169 of them are for solo piano. He was virtually self taught and decided early on to focus on one instrument. He gave his first concert aged 10 and wrote his first set of Mazurkas when he was 14. Chopin was slow to make an impact because he preferred the salon to the concerto hall and so his fame had to spread person to person, in fact he only gave about thirty public performances in total. Ill health plagued him for much of his life and he died in 1849 of TB aged 39.
Infact it was an Irish composer called John Field who worked in the court of Catherine the Great, who invented the Nocturne for which he has never received any critical acclaim for his achievements. The Nocturne isn't just another musical journey but is a mood picture and they were intended to be played at the end of a concert. Chopin made the format his own and wrote 21 Nocturnes whereby along with his Etudes he set a staggering standard of technical virtuosity for the players as well as something utterly beautiful to listen to. One of the most important features of the Nocturne is the song like melody played in the right hand which really draws the listener in while the left hand plays the harmony and rhythm.
I particularly like this recording by Joao Maria Pires because not only is she a phenomenal pianist but it contains all the Nocturnes on one recording rather than having a mixed programme of Chopin's music. You never tire of the Nocturnes because they are all so different.
You have the choice of either buying a selection of Nocturnes (which includes the two above) or you can download a recording containing all the Nocturnes:
On Amazon you can only buy the complete Nocturnes - Amazon