The pianist Joaquín Achúcarro celebrated his eighty-fifth birthday by recording Chopin for the first time. He assures us that he is feeling unusually fit and that, for the moment, he is not thinking of leaving the concert scene. ‘I want to keep playing everything: Mozart, Brahms . . . Fate will decide when I retire’, he says.
The Preludes are not little jewels arranged side by side; they form a whole, a gigantic work. Each prelude, however brief it may be, presents a particular mood and constitutes a world in itself. We are dealing here with twenty-four ‘psychological studies’, twenty-four states of mind: humanity, joy, rage, heroism, defeat, triumph, love, nostalgia, sadness, hope, resignation, and so on – all of them feelings with which Chopin was perfectly familiar.
Joaquín Achúcarro waited a long time before recording the Preludes because he wanted to have the impression that he had totally assimilated them, to the extent that they became, so to speak, a part of his subconscious; almost like establishing a friendship with a living being. From that point on, he was ready to go into the recording studio.
Fantaisie-Impromptu in C sharp minor, op. posth. 66