Chopin – the poet of the piano! What more can be said about this composer – born in Żelazowa Wola to a French father and a Polish mother – who embodied the spirit and soul of Poland, but lived his all-too-brief life in France? 170 years after his passing, his music continues to enthrall connoisseurs and amateurs alike; this disc on the Champs Hill label, presenting a new artist in her debut recording, is bound to be welcome.
Lara Melda was born in England of Turkish parentage. She studied at the Royal Academy, winning the BBC Young Musician competition in 2010 and since then, has continued to appear in recital throughout Europe and in other parts of the world.
The thoughtfully chosen program comprising seven nocturnes and the four ballades is a delight. Melda approaches the music with an elegant sensitivity, her warm tone coupled with just the right degree of tempo rubato. The technical challenges inherent in these pieces, particularly the ballades, are daunting enough for any pianist, but she conquers them with apparent ease. There are times when her tempos – such as in the Nocturnes Op.9 No.3 or Op.48 No.1 – may seem a little brisk, but this is a minor issue and certainly doesn’t mar her fine performance.
Of the 11 tracks, among the highlights is surely the glorious fourth Ballade Op.52, considered by many to be one of Chopin’s greatest compositions, and also one of his most difficult. Melda does it full justice, from the lyrical and delicate opening measures to the frenetic coda which brings the disc to a satisfying conclusion. If this recording is any evidence of her musical stature, we can surely hope to hear from Lara Melda again in the near future.