New Sonorities Explored On ‘Chopin Variations’

Chad Lawson: Chopin Variations
Chopin: Nocturne in F Minor, Op. 55, No. 1; Prelude in B Minor, Op. 28, No. 6; Waltz in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 64, No. 2; Mazurka in G Minor, Op. 67, No. 2; Prelude in C Minor, Op. 28, No. 20; Nocturne in E-Flat Major, Op. 9, No. 2; Prelude in E Minor, Op. 28, No. 4; Nocturne in E Minor, Op. 72, No. 1; Waltz in A Minor, Op. 34, No. 2; Prelude in D-Flat Major, Op. 28, No. 15
pianist Chad Lawson; violinist Judy Kang; cellist Rubin Kodheli
Hillset Records (Amazon / iTunes)

Released on September 23, Chad  Lawson’s new album ‘Chopin Variations’ almost immediately hit the #1 iTunes Classical Album Debut. Lawson felt Chopin needed a new introduction—along with violinist, Judy Kang, and cellist Rubin Kodheli, the trio has arranged 10 Chopin works into a minimalist format even the “poet of the piano” would appreciate.

This is a double disc release: disc one contains the pieces as arranged for piano, violin, and cello, while disc two is performed as the original solo piano repertoire.

According to NPR:

A pianist with a strong background in jazz, Lawson presents 10 Chopin works on his aptly named new album, The Chopin Variations. It’s not just the way he arranges the music that makes these recordings different. There’s an intimate, otherworldly feeling that comes from the way they were recorded, a tactic Lawson first tried on his 2013 album The Space Between.

“I record, usually, late at night; we have two small children under the age of 5, so no one wants to hear music at 2 a.m.,” he says. “I had felt placed between the strings and hammers because it really mutes the sound, and it created this really warm, resonating tone. … You’re able to strike the note without it having a really harsh attack. But with doing that, though, the microphone setting is placed really close to the hammers inside the piano, and so you hear all the creaks and the cracks of the piano itself. You’re hearing it as a machine, almost.”

[Sources: npr.org, chadlawson.com]