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Chopin Piano Music Alfredo Perl/Freddy Kempf/Angela Hewitt

Preludes Op 28 (Alfredo Perl); Etudes Op 10 & 25 (Freddy Kempf) and Sonata in Bb minor, Op 35 (Angela Hewitt)

Opus Arte/BBC OA 0893 D [135 mins]

This strange and essentially misconceived Welsh TV DVD of popular Chopin is worth considering only for Alfredo Perl's account of the Op 28 Preludes.

A well respected pianist, who gave them at the Festival Hall in London last month together with Beethoven sonatas, he alone seems at ease in front of the cameras despite near fatal presentation. The film team is more interested in "atmospheric evocative settings" and we are taken on a tour of Chateau de Neuville, the camera alighting on the piano and pianist, but rarely staying still for more than moments.

Filmed over four days, the lighting varies as it would. There is no continuity; incredibly, each piece - many of them tiny - is separated from the next by a long pause during which the Opus No of the next one (not its key) is shown on a black screen. Why not simple (optional) subtitles with the information? If those had been placed at the end of the tracks, one could have skipped them with the zapper.

But for all that, Perl held our attention for his undemonstrative, economical manner and poise; the easy pieces that everyone plays were especially notable for the careful weighting and voicing of every chord and harmonically significant moment, and he was the better for watching whilst listening.

Freddy Kempf spent his four days in Hopetown House, Edinburgh to put down the 24 studies, Op 10 & 25, and Angela Hewitt her four in an empty Wimbledon Theatre for the Bb minor sonata, played on a Fazioli, with the camera giving us peculiar views of the auditorium for no discernible reason.

Neither pianist looked or sounded comfortable. Kempf raced through all the notes with little phrasing in the fast ones and Hewitt was far less authoritative than in her Bach. There are no notes and Katherine Whiteside (TV producer) should probably take the chief blame amongst the many credited. If specialist piano fanciers find more in this DVD than I did, I will return to it and reconsider.

© Peter Grahame Woolf