Three DSD Reviewers were intrigued and inspired by this DSD Release. They reviewed Josep Colom’s Confluences – Bach & Chopin on Eudora Records.
Josep Colom, piano
Qualities: DSD 64fs, 128fs, 256fs
Channels: Stereo, Multi
By NativeDSD Reviewers John Huxhold and Eric Meyer
An Integrated Whole
Like J.S. Bach’s preludes, Chopin’s etudes explore all the major and minor keys. Pianist Josep Colom’s latest recording for Eudora Records called ͞Confluences: Bach & Chopin provides a unique take on these two collections, looking for similarities, including identical, related, or sometimes contrasting key signatures. The Bach prelude comes first on the odd-numbered tracks with a Chopin etude (or, in three cases, a nocturne) following on the even-numbered tracks. Except for the final two pairings, Colom adds a few transitional notes or phrases between each track, weaving all 26 of them into an integrated whole, like movements of a large pianistic symphony.
Confluences is a good word for this collection because the paired pieces share more than just key signatures. In addition,there are confluences of style, harmony, and mood. For example, Bach’s Prelude No. 1 moves through various cadences from its base of C major through many key changes with arpeggios that start low in the left hand and roll up to the top of the right. Chopin’s ͞Etude in C major is written in a similarly florid style using a wider range on the keyboard and more bravado. A similar connection occurs with Bach’s ͞Prelude No. 1 and Chopin’s ͞Etude in e-flat minor where both begin with a similar figure in the left hand and add within a few measures an expressive melody in the right.
The recording provides a faithful soundstage, a real presence for the modern 1957 Model D Steinway piano. The sound of Colom’s left hand radiates from further back and to the left of the stage, and the right-hand sound comes from forward right, just as expected. The sound seems broader and deeper than that of some other modern solo piano recordings. Subtle nuances of the performance, such as skilled pedal technique and rhythmic variations on Bach and Chopin, come across clearly throughout the performance.
This project, while not unprecedented, is nevertheless thought-provoking. And while they are not indispensable, Colom’s transitions are clever and effective in leading from one piece to another. In fact, for the last two pairings he uses the beginning of the Etude written by Chopin as its own coincidental connection to the Bach that preceded it. It is a reminder that we should be grateful to Mr. Colom for bringing these juxtapositions to our attention. Even if you have little interest in the concept of this album, you should not ignore this immensely satisfying collection of Bach and Chopin performed by an insightful musician in an intimate and transparent recording.
By NativeDSD Reviewer Jorge Capadocia
Colom “connects” the music: a fluid recital
In this recording, Spanish pianist Josep Colom alternates between a Bach’s prelude (from the Well-Tempered Clavier) and a Chopin’s Étude/Nocturne played on a 1957 Model D Steinway & Sons piano.
Envisioning that each prelude would serve as an introduction to the Chopin’s piece that follows, Colom selected pieces to highlight contrasts and similarities. To move from a prelude to the étude/nocturne that follows (and also from a pair to the next one), he improvises cadenzas and transitions. In so “connecting” the music, Colom essentially creates a fluid recital. His interventions are finely crafted, ranging from smooth, simple ones (connecting Prelude No.1 in C major BWM 846 to Étude Op.10/1 in the same key) to lengthier and more elaborate transitions (leading Prelude No. 15 in G major BWV 884 into Étude in F minor op.10/9). The recital is brought to a surprising end with the dramatic Étude in C minor op.25/12 transitioning through Prelude No.1 into Étude Op.10/1 – the first pair played. A most fitting and satisfying conclusion to Confluences!
Colom plays with aplomb, letting the music speak. His phrasing is appropriately expressive in Chopin and direct with no rubato in Bach. This album continues the exploration of the concept he started in Dialogue (also available at NativeDSD), in which he paired Chopin’s to Mozart’s pieces.
Eudora’s engineer Gonzalo Noqué has shared his thoughts about this project with NativeDSD in the Producer’s notes. He did a great job in capturing the wooden sound of the piano at the Auditorio de Zaragoza. The sound is natural and clinical (very clear even in fortissimo passages), having specially detailed bass lines. In the booklet notes (English and Spanish), Francisco Jaime Pantín discusses each pairing and Colom’s cadenzas/transitions connecting them. The booklet also features detailed recording data and some artistic black and white photos. Except for the most adamant against Bach being played on modern piano, this recording is warmly recommended.
By NativeDSD Reviewer Wayne Wilmeth
Just before, I was listening to a wonderful DSD download from nativeDSD, Mahler’s 8th Symphony by Fischer with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Utah Symphony Orchestra, singing “Veni, creator spiritus” Come Creating Spirit! WOW! Then I put on Josep Colom’s “Confluences—Bach & Chopin”.
It came to life, thrilling me from the first pairing, Bach’s Prelude with Chopin’s Étude. Surely in a real sense one follows the other, Bach’s influence is there seen in Chopin, but enriched. Bach’s pure seed, mathematically perfect, planted in straight rows, right and pure light, watered by the creating spirit grows up into blossoms, rich exuberance, extravagant, riotous verdant life in Chopin!
One pairing after another Colom shows us how beautifully Chopin drew on and grew from Bach’s genius. The emotion with which he plays these Preludes, Nocturnes and Études is heart-expanding; No, not just the Chopin but he plays Bach with almost equal fire. Listen to the last pair, joyous music!
Just one further note, if I may, once again I have to say these DSD recordings set a new standard in piano sound. I have never heard a more true, pure capture of a piano being played and so deliciously by Colom. This is a MUST HEAR.