Archive for January, 2008

Xiaofeng Wu in performance
This is one of the best-known (and arguably, the most difficult!) of the set of twelve études Chopin dedicated to Franz Liszt. The Études were published in a single volume in 1833, when Chopin was 23, although four of them are supposed to have been completed as early as 1829.
“Étude” literally means “study” or “exercise,” which is especially apparent in this particular work, which is designed to strengthen the “weaker” (that is, the third, fourth, and fifth) fingers of the right hand. But Chopin doesn’t stop there the thumb and index fingers have to play the accompanying chords to the dizzying “melody” going up and down the keyboard on those “weak” fingers.
Just to underscore the technical nature of this étude, Chopin even takes a page from the J.S. Bach playbook and indicates the fingering – note by note — of the almost 800 notes in this piece!

Hear Chopin Project pianist Xiaofeng Wu perform Chopin’s Étude in A minor, Op. 10, No. 2

Some other links to Chopin Études, courtesy of Wikipedia:


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Why are Chopin’s Waltzes so perennially appealing to pianists? The folks at the boutique label Brana Records offer a clue: nicely: “They incorporate a range of moods from melancholy to effervescent but retain an air of sophistication suited to aristocratic salons.”

This Waltz in F minor, in fact, steps right out of a Parisian drawing-room. It’s one of two works dedicated to Elise Gavard (she was also the dedicate of the Berceuse in D Flat major, Op. 57 – more on that in a later post). It was composed in 1842, but was not published until 1855, six years after Chopin’s death. Indeed there’s some scholarly speculation that Chopin didn’t really want it to circulate very much. The Chopin Music site calls it a work of beauty amidst lost longing:

This dance is a gloomy song of failed entreaty. Its melody glances slightly at that which it temporarily enjoyed. The central section is one of absolute beauty, characterizing its style almost perfectly.

Hear Soyoung Park perform Chopin’s Waltz in F minor, Op. 70, No. 2 at the Chopin Project Concert VIII.

Find the complete sheetmusic at Pianosociety.com

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