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Archive for the ‘Etudes’ Category

Smack-dab in the middle of Chopin’s Op. 25 Etudes lies this unique and memorable piece that is unlike any other Chopin creation. And one that has generated a considerable amount of ink over the decades.

Sometimes it’s called the “‘cello Etude,” due to the fact that the prominent melody is in the left hand, approximating the range of a cello. Others have called it “A Duet between a He and a She.” Or perhaps you prefer “Morbidly Elegaic?” Ballade-like? A Missing Nocturne?

Another school of thought says plainly: It’s an Etude. It’s supposed to help you with perfecting you piano technique. And the technique here is an exquisitely difficult phrasing and balance question – making the left hand carry the melody without being overpowered by the right — when the natural tendency is to go the other way.

Oh, and just to mess you up a little further, the left and right hand are playing quite independent musical lines that need to coincide at key moments.

So, for the final word, let’s transport you back to G.C. Ashton Jonson, author of the 1905 tome A Handbook to Chopin’s Works: (For the Use of Concert-Goers, Pianists, and Pianola Players):

Etude in C-sharp Op. 25 No. 7

Click on the piano to hear Chopin Project Artistic Director Arthur Greene perform Chopin’s unique Etude in C-sharp Minor, Op. 25, No. 7.

Read the Wikipedia entry here.

Read the Chopinmusic.net entry here.

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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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