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Archive for the ‘Chopin’ Category

Chopinmusic.net calls this Grand Valseone of Chopin’s most popular and glittering works.” We’re hard pressed to disagree.

Click on the piano to hear Chopin Project pianist Jei-Yern Ryu perform Chopin’s effervescent Waltz in E-flat, Op. 18.

Want to try playing it yourself? Download the sheet music here.

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Paganini ChopinThis rare bit of Chopiniana was supposedly written after violin virtuoso Niccolo Paganini came through Warsaw in the summer of 1829, a concert we know that Chopin attended. A month later he graduated from the Higher School of Music in Warsaw, where a teacher wrote, “Chopin, Fryderyk: third-year student, amazing capabilities, musical genius.”

 
   

Dmitri Vorobiev

Piano Player IconCLICK ON THE PIANO to hear Dmitri Vorobiev perform Chopin’s Variations in A Major, “Souvenir de Paganini” KK 1203

Find the sheet music at Pianopedia

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Chopin once wrote, “When one does a thing, it appears good, otherwise one would not write it. Only later comes reflection, and one discards or accepts the thing. Time is the best censor, and patience a most excellent teacher.”Upon further reflection, Chopin must have realized that this Waltz was an all-time keeper, a favorite of piano virtuosos and amateurs alike since Chopin’s own time. It was a notable favorite of Artur Rubinstein. In fact, the Chopin.Net site has a nice anecdote about Rubinstein:

When people asked him how he could continue to play the same waltz for over 75 years, he replied, “Because it’s not the same, and I don’t play it the same way.”

Svetlana Smolina

From the Chopin Project concerts, Piano Player IconCLICK ON THE PIANO to listen to Svetlana Smolina perform Chopin’s Waltz in C-sharp Minor, Op. 64, No. 2.

Speaking of virtuosos, this is also one of the pieces that Vladimir Horowitz performed at the White House during a 50th anniversary Command Performance for President & Mrs. Carter in 1978. You can watch it on YouTube, with some nice close-ups of Horowitz’s hands.

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Chopin Mazurkas The Mazurkas, like the Polonaises, are the compositions closest to Chopin’s Polish roots. In fact, many Chopin scholars say the Mazurkas are Chopin at his most personal, experimental, and confessional: In his Mazurkas, you get to know the very soul of Poland and Chopin never forgot his home land or the poor farmers singing the Mazurkas during the time of harvest. Chopin started his composing with a Polonaise and ended with a Mazurka, thus closing the circle.”PianoSociety.com This is also what makes people study Chopin’s 58+ Mazurkas intently. Check out The Mazurka Project – a British site offering comparative study of 3000 recordings of Chopin Mazurkas!xiaofang wuListen to Xiaofeng Wu perform Chopin’s Mazurka in A minor, Op. 68, No.2 in concert at the University of Michigan’s Britton Recital Hall.Get the music at Sheet Music Plus.

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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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Ballade in G minor, Op. 23 In the previous post we discussed an all-time Chopin favorite, the Nocturne in E-flat, Op. 9, No. 2. What then, is left to say about another Chopin classic – this Ballade in G minor?Plenty, it would appear. There’s an extremely technical description in the La Folia online music reveiew by Beth Levin:

…..A rhythm of 6/4 suggests an underlying waltz, as does the set of chords that plays off each melody note. Further, the chords lie under portamento slurs which give them shape, gently tug at the second and third beats, and increase the inherent dance quality. However, a waltz in G minor is colored by the key and therefore imbued with a tender poignancy. One dances, but with a heavy heart….

Then there’s an entire dissertation by a Swedish graduate student. Here’s his abstract:

The purpose of this work is to make a general presentation of Chopin, the age in which he lived, his G minor Ballade and selected editions of the Ballade. I will also compare five recordings of the G minor Ballade, and make a presentation and a recording of my own interpretation of the G minor Ballade. This work discusses his life up to the time the Ballade was published, Chopin’s development as a composer, and the period in his life when the Ballade was composed. Background material on the history of the Ballade as a genre and its development is included to give the reader an enhanced contextual understanding. The issue as to whether Chopin had a literary model when composing the G minor Ballade and his relationship with the Polish writer Adam Mickiewicz is discussed. This work considers the issue of form in the G minor Ballade, Chopin’s personality, how Chopin played, his use ofthe term ‘tempo rubato’, and how he used improvisation and composition.

Make what you will of this interpretation of an Arturo Benedetti Michalangeli fansite:

Miracle seems really a shortfall, rather than a longfall, when it is applied with Michelangeli’s Chopin (especially the Ballade in G minor, op. 23; Deutsche Grammophon 413 449-2): water seem to be loosing ground against the lack of distance. With proper distance however, there is a possibility the water might fall with greater flow and maturity. Michelangeli drive for that aim is to have more miracle and less than a human spirit is ultimately tested against the harsh background where one finds a waterfall equipped with sophisticated break-system.

Chopin primarily conceived the Work to be played out amongst the adult fellowship society of his peers nonetheless amounting to no fewer than the very composer himself as the sole guest. Chopin somehow wanted the work to be played by grownups; yet he himself when he conceived all this was a child. His excess employment of piano’s sustaining pedal is no justification for the larger framework thereof. He might have been using the principle to get beyond the fantastic element in the piano: he incorporated it into the Work very stylishly that the importance of the pedal desists when it is fused into the work as a whole. Sophistication still is called for. It is up to the individual pianist to start where it gains ground and appears appropriate to begin constructing the superstructure.

Last word goes to Arthur Greene:

The G minor Ballade, if I play it correctly, should need no introduction.

Listen to Arthur Greene’s performance of the Chopin Ballade in G minor, Op. 23

View and download the sheet music here.

Want more? Deeper into the Web we go. How about this “Interpretation of the Narrative Grammar of Chopin’s Ballade in G minor?”

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lilachopinnocturne.jpgArthur Greene:

“Today’s entry takes us into far more familiar Chopin territory. The Nocturne in E-flat, Op. 9 No. 2 comes from around 1830, -after Chopin had left Warsaw forever. But the version I’m playing here has a bit of a twist. There are some scores of Chopin’s works that he marked up for his piano students, and they’ve been a fascinating find for musicologists. You can see where he marked things on the scores, adding fingerings and other instructions for his students. And in some of them Chopin added extra notes – and even little cadenzas! So if you know this beloved Nocturne, listen extra closely, and you’ll hear some things that aren’t usually there.”

Click on the Piano Piano Player IconFrom Britton Recital Hall, listen to Arthur Greene perform Chopin’s Nocturne in E-flat Op. 9 No. 2 (original cadenzas)

Find the sheet music here.

Did we mention that this Nocturne is popular? Visit the 43things site to find out who wants to play this Nocturne to an empty concert hall.

How popular? Visit the online video agreggator FindInternetTV.com to see the 27 different video versions.
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