Idil Biret, the Turkish pianist who masterfully performs the three piano sonatas by Chopin in this 1991 Naxos release, has recorded prolifically for the label including complete works by Chopin, Beethoven, Brahms and Rachmaninoff, much of which this blogger owns and greatly enjoys,
Her technique and sensitivity to the material is obvious, even to a true amateur listener such as this blogger, though the fact that the emotional expression in her work comes through so that it can be felt by anyone who pays due attention is testament to her remarkable abilities.
Biret, a native of Turkey, studied from a young age and learned under the legendary Nadia Boulanger in Paris, becoming a soloist in major concert halls from the age of 16. Her work with Chopin led her to receive Poland's highest civilian honor, the Cross of the Order of Merit as well as a Grand Prix du Disque Frédéric Chopin award for her complete recordings of the composer.
The best known of the three sonatas presented here is, of course, the second, known as "The Funeral March" of 1837 with its very familiar dirge theme, but the third sonata from 1844 is excellent. The first, completed in 1828, when Chopin was still in his teens, was not published until after his death and may be seen as a student's experiment, albeit of a student of a genius level.
As stated in the notes and elsewhere, Chopin's music was not the bombastic, concert hall ready type exemplified by his flashy contemporary, Franz Liszt. It was more nuanced and was very delicate and elegant and, as Ulrich Spratte states in the notes, was "in the more refined ambiance of the fashionable salon" rather than the grand hall.
In the hands of a peerless interpreter like Biret, this gorgeous music is given its fullest expression. Biret and Naxos proved to have had a remarkable and rare partnership in presenting music like this that is a fantastic experience to hear.