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Posts Tagged ‘Arthur Greene’

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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The Waltz, c. 1806Chopinmusic calls it “the most ambitious and substantial of all Chopin’s waltzes.”

The Vancouver Chopin Society goes even further, quoting David Dubal in suggesting that this “Grand Valse” is the essence of Chopin:

A case may be made for the Op. 42 as Chopin’s most perfect valse. After the first measures of trill, a call to the dance, there is a melody with a rare lilt composed in double time, with the triple time of the waltz in the left hand. Schumann remarked that “like his earlier waltzes it is a salon piece of the noblest kind.” The composition, Schumann feels, should be danced to only by “countesses at least.” This waltz is the most demanding technically of the series.

Chopin’s official title for the piece is the Grande Valse Nouvelle pour le piano, Op. 42. There’s a fascinating detail of its publication history available at Chopin First Editions Online.

Piano Player IconClick on the piano to hear it played live at a Chopin Project concert by Artistic Director Arthur Greene.

Want to play it yourself? Get the score at the Sheet Music Archive.

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Arthur Greene playsAs Chopin Project Artistic Director Arthur Greene heads off to Novi Sad, Serbia, to judge and perform in the Isidor Bajic Memorial Competition, he leaves us a taste of his masterful Chopin interpretation with this performance of the Mazurka in C-sharp minor, Op. 6, No. 2.
Click on the Piano Piano Player Icon to hear the Mazurka with its mysterious opening, “a song so sad, heartfelt, naive, diversified and caressing.”
Mazurkas, Op. 6Take a look at this fascinating University of Chicago site with digital images of Historic Scores of the Op. 6 Mazurkas, dating from 1832-1850.

Love the Chopin Mazurkas? Read a fuller description of them on the Pianosociety.com website…

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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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Chopin Op. 1

Arthur Greene:

By the time he was 15, Chopin had developed has piano technique considerably, and he was writing pieces that were firmly in the virtuoso tradition of the early Romantic period. Now, the general aesthetic at the time was not particularly deep or profound — it was more about varied and pretty effects. Chopin later developed those techniques into some pretty profound utterances, but here it’s mostly surface charm. And I’ll bet you’ve never heard this piece before. In fact, even as a piano-faculty member who’s heard thousands of students playing untold thousands of piano works, I’ve never heard anyone play this piece. But I’ve really enjoyed getting to know it – and to play it.

Listen to Arthur Greene’s performance of Chopin’s Rondo in C minor, Op. 1 (1825)

Download the sheet music to Chopin’s Op. 1 (courtesy free-scores.com)


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Chopin - Barcarolle in F-sharp, Op. 60 This is one of the last pieces that Chopin played in public. The excellent notes from the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s website sets the stage:

When in 1846 Frederic Chopin (1810-1849) completed the Barcarolle, the last work of its relatively large size to come from his pen, he was already laid low by the fatal illness that three years later would take his life. He must have had deep affection for the piece, for he included it on the program of a concert he gave in Paris, February 16, 1848, his last appearance in his loved adopted city. Reports of the event tell of this physically depleted man unable to play much above the level of pianissimo even in the Barcarolle’s most expansive sections, a depressing experience for his many friends in the audience.The Barcarolle is the single work of its type in his catalog, which is not surprising considering the limitations imposed by the necessity to maintain a “boat” accompaniment and to invent suitably artless – gondoliere – melodies. In light of these specific guidelines, Chopin has created a composition of remarkable continuity and diversity having, in this temperate context, unexpected dramatic intensity in a soaring climax. (Sudden storm on the Venice canal?) Read more of the notes here.

The Vancouver Chopin Society also has an interesting perspective of the performance challenges of this piece, along with some recording recommendations:

“…It has been the despair of many fine artists, being difficult to interpret successfully. It is easy to sound affected, as does [Claudio] Arrau, or nervous, as does [Vladimir] Horowitz, or too plain, as did [Walter] Gieseking. Chopin must have been its ideal interpreter… The Barcarolle displays Chopin’s ornamental genius in full bloom. Ravel wrote, “Chopin was not content merely to revolutionize piano technique. His figurations are inspired. Through his brilliant passages one perceives profound, enchanting harmonies. Always there is the hidden meaning which is translated into poetry of intense despair. . . . The Barcarolle is the synthesis of the expressive and sumptuous art of this great Slav.”

Hear Arthur Greene perform Chopin’s Barcarolle in F-sharp minor, Op. 60

Read the Wikipedia definition of Barcarolle

Find more recordings

More publishing information

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rev_greene03.jpg “The very first piece on the program is a piece that Chopin wrote when he was seven years old. It’s very typical of the music that was being written at that time in Warsaw…a little Polonaise…with even a little virtuosic flourish in it. But Chopin was too young to write the notes down on the page..his father wrote it for him. He had probably written some things before this, but this is the first surviving piece that we have.”Arthur Greene.

Hear Arthur Greene perform the Polonaise in G minor – Chopin’s first piece

Publishing Information from Pianopedia

Download the score from the Werner Icking Archive

Watch “Charlie” (5 yrs 11 months) play it on YouTube

Title Page - Chopin’s Polonaise in G minor

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