Igor Toronyi-Lalic

Pianino Man

Chopin's Piano: A Journey through Romanticism

By

Allen Lane 349pp £20 order from our bookshop

On the page they look like nothing. ‘Ruins’, Schumann called Chopin’s twenty-four Preludes. Some are so short, so superficially easy, that they’ve become a staple of ‘Classics for Beginners’ books. It took me years to realise how great these pieces were, so effectively had I butchered them as a child, turning the most delicate ones into odes to teenage angst. With a bit of distance, however, and a good performance, their genius suddenly hits you, as in Cortot’s feverish recordings. In the Frenchman’s hands, mawkish scraps became vivid Polaroids.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter