Chopin’s youthful Piano Concertos are well-liked by the public, asking from the pianist superb control along with authentic imagination, coping with the sometimes rigid structure of these pieces and the amateurish orchestral accompaniment.
In his new albums, Charles Richard-Hamelin, silver medalist of the 2015 Chopin competition, presents an assured, calm and rather unsentimental view of the concertos. He is accompanied, like Martha Argerich in her famous 1998 version, by the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal under Kent Nagano, which brings out some intriguing woodwind lines not often coming to the fore.
On both concertos, the slow movements are the highlights, and the finales are played with a relatively slow tempo, that though diminishes the virtuosic element of the piano part, never sounds sluggish. Overall, when finishing listening to these performances, one is left with a feeling they had been executed just right, without exaggeration and with attractive straightforwardness. Nice, atmospheric recording, taken from a series of concerts at the orchestra’s new home, the “Maison symphonique de Montréal”.