Simon Trpceski is a young inspiring pianist most of the time, however this youth takes on the spirit of a race horse that often loses control of pacing its speed. This lack of pacing becomes most obvious in the opening movement of Chopin's Sonata in B flat minor.
Chopin knew Italian well and his markings are to be respected. The "Grave" becomes the only place to establish the tempo of the entire movement. Unlike Rubenstein, Argerich and Perlemuter to name a few, who produce a precise Grave in the opening four bars, Trpceski chooses his own tempo which pushes these precious bars instead of allowing them to unfold gently, with an element of spacing. As a result the following "Doppio movimento", 'double the speed', literally takes off at such a clip, it becomes difficult to follow the rhythmic uniformity. Trpceski also plays with a forced tone and a restricted dynamic scope making the forte-piano contrasts less dramatic.
Once Trpceski reaches the second subject 'sostenuto', he suddenly becomes extremely poetic, imaginative and considerably musical. He allows the long phrases to unfold gently with an immaculate touch and subtle range of color.
Technically the scherzo makes greater demands than anything else in the sonata. Here, Trpceski projects most successfully. The end of the movement shows a keen dramatic sense and awareness of continuity in its preparation for the funeral march.
Once he begins the slow movement, the grief Motif is responsive to the darkness of the somber character. In the Trio theme, Trpceski produces a magnificent warmth of sonority with fluid long phrases. He makes effective use of pedal coloring, agogics, rubato and texture of sound. The phrase line has the needed cohesion and motion to prevent stalling.
The finale, on the other hand, is marked 'presto', as well as the clearly marked 'sotto voce e legato'. It indeed should be played fast, but Trpceski always conveys a wealth of harmonic subtlety throughout. He produces a wealth of detail and technical skill that is satisfying even when played at half speed. Despite the moments of questionable approach, Trpceski brings this masterpiece to its close with a style that is considerably striking.
The basic form of a Scherzo, is that of the minuet and trio. The more expanded the piece becomes, and the weightier the material it sets up, the greater, usually, is the contrast which seems to be demanded. Chopin pays attention to these considerations throughout the four. Trpceski however, once again pays more attention to breathtaking speed causing the musical aspects to suffer. His accents are harsh and overly attacked, and when rests occur he clips the last note with such force that he changes the location of the beat which distorts the rhythm. Yet, when playing the trio sections, Trpceski once again proves his ability to convey playing that is imaginative and full of character. Long phrases are memorably resourceful, varied and involving. With his sensitive touch and range of color, he draws every ounce of poetry from the section.
The overall playing needs to become more within character concerning choices of tempo, touch and dynamic range. Trpceski must give greater consideration to Chopin's intentions and the quality of sound he desired the most. Harsh attacks and forcing the tone are specific areas that artistic maturity will correct in playing that has already proved Trpceski to be one of the major upcoming pianists.
Author: Raymond Vacchino M.Mus. Classical Music Critic