Originally published on June 5
A lyrical turn, a sensitive touch, a magical introduction to Kim Bernard at the start of Chopin’s F-minor Ballade (Opus 52), a spontaneous reading of the whole, expressive, with a temperament to match the volatility of the music, then gently calmed by the Opus 57 Berceuse, its intricacies illuminated (aided by a close and clear recording, pristine studio sessions from January this year), and then we are transported by the great Opus 60 Barcarolle, which for all the piano’s forward placing doesn’t disguise that Bernard is responsive to pianissimos. His trills are impressive, too, as the start of Debussy’s L’Isle joyeuse shows, leading off a vibrant reading, which is just a bit clattering, too, as recorded, although the lack of impressionism in Book I of Images may well have pleased the composer, not a term he recognised, and if the set’s three pieces prove too explicit, Bernard’s is still good-to-listen-to playing, particularly the deftness needed for ‘Mouvement’. Ravel’s Baroque-leaning Le Tombeau de Couperin closes Bernard’s recital, its six movements (Ravel orchestrated four) nicely flexible and poised, with a crispness worthy of Couperin’s harpsichord and a compassion that honours Ravel’s friends lost in World War One, especially in V, the ‘Menuet’. The ‘Toccata’ is a scintillating finish. Erato 0190296201141 is released on June 17.
“23-year-old French pianist Kim Bernard is the first laureate of the Fondation Gautier Capuçon”
“Kim Bernard studied piano from the age of 5, won first prize at the 2012 Montrond-les-Bains International Competition and at the National Pianistic Nights Competition”