Raoul von Koczalski (1884 - 1948)

Hear play Chopin’s Nocturne in E flat, op. 9, no. 2:

2 Nocturne In E Flat, Op. 9:2

Koczalski asserted to have inherited the Chopin tradition from Karol Mikuli, the composer’s assistant and Koczalski’s teacher. As Mikuli died when Koczalski was still a child, it is doubtful that he could have maturely absorbed the stylistic and emotional sides of this music. Also, Moriz Rosenthal thought little of Mikuli as a teacher, claiming he understood Chopin as a talent could understand a genius. There are many recordings by Koczalski: a Mazurka and Eccossaise by Chopin are superb. Several of Chopin’s Etudes are well played. The rest are uneven: the more demanding a form becomes, as in a Ballade, the more incontinent is the playing. Koczalski is best enjoyed for his few good discs, the rest taken with a grain of salt: in fact his examples illustrate what one ought to avoid in playing Chopin. In the Nocturne heard here, Koczalski added ornaments that he claimed were transmitted to him by Mikuli. Their vulgarity bears little resemblance to descriptions of Chopin’s refined elegant taste. His book he assembled on Chopin’s piano music was derived from lectures and is a superficial read. While he alludes to Mikuli in the preface, an opportunity to convey what he learned from this link to the composer was missed, presenting his research and findings as results of a superficial instrumentalist.

For more on this impostor, please read the blog post Chopin’s heir?