Alberto Reyes
A very personal tribute to Chopin from a thoughtful and reticent pianist

Alberto Reyes, who I first heard and greatly admired at the Leeds International Competition in 1973, joins the intensive Chopin celebrations with a two-disc tribute and also with a question: "Why another Chopin recording?" Here, in his modest and engaging essay, he speaks of his trepidation over an ever-elusive task, his happiness to occasionally support Chopin's writing with bass reinforcements and desynchronisation of the hands for added expressive effect, of his fear as well as joy of ever-present rather than past glory (Cortot, Moiseiwitsch, etc) and of his striving for something beyond an artificial "barbarism of perfection".

Certainly all his performances tell you that he is far more interested in Chopin than himself and those looking for the gilded excess of recent and, in these columns, much-praised issues will be disappointed. His Barcarolle is as robust as it is sensitive, clearly the fruit of long experience. True, he can be stalwart and plain-speaking (the central section of the Scherzos from both Sonatas) rather than magical or enticing. In the Fantasie I missed the soaring eloquence of Van Cliburn in his recently released issue of his only London recital (Testament) and there is hardly an opening onto "magic faery lands forlorn" in the manner of, say, Cherkassky. But the final pages of the Fourth Ballade are as magisterial and lucid as you could wish and in the central Elyseum of the Second Sonata's Funeral March Reyes relaxes into a moving and personal eloquence. He takes the same Sonata's first movement repeat (in his hands an explosive rejoinder to a fleeting moment of calm) but wisely ignores a similar repeat sign in the Third Sonata. VAI's sound is exemplary and now that Reyes has relinquished his duties as an interpreter for the UN Security Council and General Assembly (a post exposing him to considerable personal danger) I hope we shall hear much more of him.

Bryce Morrison, Gramophone
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