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Archive for the ‘piano’ 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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Chopin’s third waltz has been called a “piece full of melancholy, gloom and grief, expressed in mournful simplicity.”

Though, according to the Vancouver Chopin Society,

The composer Stephen Heller related that Chopin called this slow (Lento) waltz his favorite. When Heller told the Pole that he, too, loved it best, Chopin immediately invited him for lunch at a fashionable cafe. Frederick Niecks wrote of this piece, “The composer evidently found pleasure in giving way to this delicious languor, in indulging in these melancholy thoughts full of sweetest, tenderest loving and longing.”

Polina KhatskoPolina Khatsko of the Chopin Project performs the Waltz in A minor, Op. 34, No. 2. To hear it, Click on the piano!

Piano Player Icon

For information on obtaining the sheet music to the Waltz from the Musicroom,

Click on the cover page!

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Olga KleiakinaToday the Chopin Project spotlight falls on Russian-born Michigan pianist Olga Kleiankina, performing the First Impromptu (in A-flat, Op. 29, No. 1) by Chopin. By its very title “Impromptu” is supposed to mean just that — just a perky, playful little ditty that Fryderyk would dash off at the keyboard without a lot of forethought or consideration. The reality is, of course, anything but that! Chopin’s Impromptus are eternally popular, and devilishly difficult to pull off. Olga Kleiankina adds, “I felt a lot of pressure preparing for these concerts and was more than a little anxious. But the audiences were very warm, and it turned out to be such a pleasure. Even though I didn’t happen to play any major works, (many of them were almost unknown, in fact!), I came to love all my pieces, and I felt the audience did too. Even though they were miniatures, I felt that each one was perfectly organized from the very inside – in a way, a microcosmos….part of the transcendental world of Chopin’s imagination.”
Piano Player IconCLICK ON THE PIANO to hear to Olga Kleiankina play Chopin’s Impromptu in A-flat, Op. 29, No. 1. before an appreciative Ann Arbor audience.
Feeling ambitious? Download the sheet music here from pianosociety.com.
And read more about the Impromptus on Chopinmusic.net

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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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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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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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