“No. 2 in E-Flat Major” feels both elegant and emotionally unrestricted in a way that only the most refined of classical works can – and best of all, it’s produced in such a manner that makes us feel like we’re sitting before the piano rather than simply listening to a recording. Sombart is tackling the works of Chopin with immense care in her new album Singing the Nocturnes, and although the material speaks for itself, it’s her delicate touch that makes it especially memorable here.
Classical music has always been defined more by shape than tone, but this is a rare instance where I feel like the body of the music is so much more profoundly expressive than the actual tone of the instrumentation is. No matter the style of keys, I have a feeling that Sombart would have breathed life into “Op. 27, No. 1 in C-Sharp Minor” with as much moxie as she does in this instance, which speaks to both her comprehension of this content and her ability to create an atmosphere with literally nothing to support her in the grander scheme of things.
Listen to “Nocturne No. 2 in E-Flat Minor” below
The fluidity of this tracklist is incredible despite the tremendous amount of sophistication there is to behold just in the structure of these movements. Sombart isn’t playing down to us, but instead imagining the material from a thoroughly straightforward position, and although there’s something to be said about experimentation, her faithfulness to the source is really what makes this such a credible listen in my book. You don’t have to know classical to appreciate what she’s recording in this piece, but those of us who do are able to enjoy it all the more due to her dedication and unabashedly honest perspectives.
There’s no getting around the passion in Singing the Nocturnes, and when she does push the envelope with an arrangement – which happens a little more in the latter half of this LP than it does the first – she’s doing so with such a personal touch that few can deny the presence of her identity in these songs. She’s got a very intriguing persona about her in this content, and I think that with the right setting she could transform works well beyond those of Chopin exclusively into something just about anyone could get into in the right circumstances.
Singing the Nocturnes is a good listen for both novice and longtime classical fans the same this winter season, and while I don’t think there’s a lot of competition when it comes to this specific category of LPs right now, Elizabeth Sombart nonetheless shines like the incredible diamond she is as a player through and through here. She’s leaning into the material and immersing us with a cathartic optimism beneath an otherwise darker tone of music that feels really refreshing to come across in 2021, and I can’t wait to hear what she’s going to do next.