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Composer: Chopin, Fryderyk Franciszek (1810-1849)

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MunichFestkonzert in Schloss Nymphenburg

Festkonzert in Schloss Nymphenburg
Chopin, Dvořák
Residenz Solisten; Andreas Skouras

LondonElizabeth Sombart, piano

Elizabeth Sombart, piano
Brahms, Schubert, Chopin
Elizabeth Sombart, Piano

New York CityDaniil Trifonov & the Kremerata Baltica

Daniil Trifonov & the Kremerata Baltica
Chopin
Kremerata Baltica; Daniil Trifonov; Gidon Kremer; Giedrė Dirvanauskaitė

BirminghamStephen Hough Piano

Stephen Hough Piano
Debussy, Chopin, Beethoven
Stephen Hough, Piano

HoustonAlso Sprach Zarathustra

Nicolai, Chopin, Strauss R.
Houston Symphony; Juraj Valčuha; Evgeny Bozhanov
Latest reviewsSee more...

Magnificent Pavel Kolesnikov outshines the CNSO

Pavel Kolesnikov © Eva Vermandel
Pavel Kolesnikov was at the heart and soul of a disappointing concert by the touring Czech orchestra.
**111
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A polished London debut recital from George Li

George Li © Simon Fowler
The Chinese American pianist gives a confident, purposeful performance, without his personality quite shining through.
***11
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Intimacy and exuberance in Schumann and Chopin

Maurizio Pollini © Mathias Bothor | DG
With plenty of sparkle and spritz, Pollini laces his performances of Schumann and Chopin with intimacy and introspection in a programme of contrasting emotions.
****1
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Mature musicality and seasoned virtuosity from Jan Lisiecki and Krzysztof Urbański in Lyon

Krzysztof Urbański © Marco Borggreve
With a pianist of the calibre of Jan Lisiecki, Krzysztof Urbański has created an award winning collaboration which puts the two Poles way apart from many other soloist-conductor combinations. 
****1
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German Romanticism through a Debussian lens

Stephen Hough at Carnegie Hall in 2015 © Christopher Smith
Juxtaposing Debussy’s music with opuses by Schumann and Beethoven, Stephen Hough brought forward connection points one wouldn't have thought of.
****1
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Biography

Delicate, refined, passionate, emotive, romantic. Many music lovers consider Chopin's piano works to be the very greatest of all music written for the instrument. It's certainly distinctive: you can listen to an awful lot of music from the same period and be in no doubt whatsoever when you hear Chopin. 

A large part of the effect comes from Chopin's talent for melody. In every generation, just a few composers have the talent for writing tune after tune that sticks in your memory as soon as you've heard it, and Chopin was certainly one of them. But what makes him special is his ability to wrap intricate tracery around his melodies and to surprise you repeatedly with shifts of key and rhythm while always putting across a feeling that every note is in the right place. Perhaps the best descriptions come from the Paris Revue Musicale, which described the 22-year old Chopin as a young man who had found “an extravagance of original ideas that are unexampled anywhere” and from Robert Schumann, who found in his music the sound of “cannon concealed amid blossoms”.

Chopin was a less versatile composer than most of the greats with whom he is frequently and fairly bracketed. There is a handful of chamber pieces and orchestral works and a few songs, none of them massively distinguished. Through and through, Chopin was a salon composer: he wrote piano music to be played in the living rooms of the rich. And within that compass, he was matchless.

Part of Chopin's unique sound comes from a unique background. Born Fryderyk Franciszek to a Frenchman settled in Poland, he became an ardent Polish nationalist Polishness and is treated as one of the great men of Polish history. By the time he was eleven, the young Chopin was already acclaimed as a great pianist and had played for the Tsar of Russia at the opening of the Polish parliament; at twenty, he set off to make his fortune in Western Europe. Just 27 days after he left, the Poles rebelled against the rule of Russia in the November uprising, a rebellion which was crushed the following year, leaving Chopin distraught and providing the creative impulse for one of his most famous works, the “Revolutionary” Etude (Op.10 no.12). He suffered from ill health throughout his life.

Chopin settled in Paris, where he became “Frédéric-François”, the name by which he is best known in English-speaking countries today, although he never learnt French perfectly. He enjoyed great concert success, but became aware that his style of playing was not suited to larger concert halls, preferring to play at his home or in salons, often on his much beloved Pleyel pianos.

In 1848, Chopin’s life was transformed by revolution once again, as the French nobility who formed his clientèle fled Paris, leaving him without income and in sharply deteriorated health. His last concert was in London in November that year: an ill-fated benefit concert for Polish refugees (no-one knows what was played since he could not be heard above the chatter of the social occasion). He died a year later in Paris, with his sister Ludwika, who had given him his first piano lessons, at his bedside.

Every lover of Chopin has their own favourite works and their own favourite performers: his music seems to lend itself to an extraordinary variety of performance styles, with endless argument possible about tempos, rubato, accenting and many other features of a performance.

Famous interpreters of the past include Artur Rubinstein, Vladimir Horowitz, Claudio Arrau and my personal favourite, the Romanian Dinu Lipatti. A “must have” play-list would include the Etudes, the Waltzes, the Preludes, the Ballades (a form that Chopin invented), and several of the Polonaises and Mazurkas. Also unforgettable are the Fantaisie-Impromptu in C sharp minor, Op. posth. 66, the Barcarolle in F sharp (a transcendent, lilting Venetian boating song) and the B flat minor Piano Sonata with its famous funeral march whose glorious gift is to uplift one’s spirits in the face of death.

David Karlin
18th December 2009

List of works
12 Etudes, Op.1012 Etudes, Op.252 Nocturnes, Op.272 Nocturnes, Op.4824 Preludes, Op.283 Mazurkas, Op.503 Nocturnes, Op.154 Mazurkas, Op.415 Mazurkas, Op.7Andante spianato et Grande Polonaise brillante, Op.22Ballade no. 1 in G minor, Op.23Ballade no. 2 in F major, Op.38Ballade no. 3 in A flat major, Op.47Ballade no. 4 in F minor, Op.52Barcarolle in F sharp major, Op.60Berceuse in D flat major, Op.57Cello Sonata in G minor, Op.65ChopinianaComplete 4 Ballades Op.23, Op.38, Op.47, Op.52Dances at a GatheringDuo Concertant in E major based on themes from Meyerbeer's "Robert le Diable"Etude in F minor, Op.25 no.2Fantasy in F minor, Op.49Four Mazurkas, Op.24Impromptu Fantasie in C sharp minor, Op.66Introduction and Polonaise Brillante in C major for cello and piano, Op.3La Dame aux caméliasLes SylphidesMazurka in A flat major, Op.17 no.3Mazurka in A minor, Op.17 no.4Mazurka in A minor, Op.67 no.4Mazurka in B flat Major (1832)Mazurka in B flat minor, Op.7 no.1Mazurka in B minor, Op.33 no.4Mazurka in C major, Op.24 no.2Mazurka in C sharp minor, Op.30 no.4Mazurka in F minor, Op.7 no.3Mazurka in F sharp minor, Op.59 no.3MazurkasMelodia (elegy) in G major, Op.74 no.9Nocturne (unspecified)Nocturne in C sharp minor, "Lento Con Gran Espressione", Op. posth, B 49Nocturne no. 1 in B flat minor, Op.9 no.1Nocturne no. 12 in G major, Op.37 no.2Nocturne no. 13 in C minor, Op.48 no.1Nocturne no. 14 in F sharp minor, Op.48 no.2Nocturne no. 15 in F minor, Op.55 no.1Nocturne no. 16 in E flat major, Op.55 no.2Nocturne no. 18 in E major, Op.62 no.2Nocturne no. 19 in E minor, Op.72 no.1Nocturne no. 7 in C sharp minor, Op.27 no.1Piano Concerto no. 1 in E minor, Op.11Piano Concerto no. 2 in F minor, Op.21Piano Sonata no. 2 in B flat minor 'Funeral March', Op.35Piano Sonata no. 3 in B minor, Op.58Piosnka litewska (a Lithuanian song) in F major, Op.74 no.16Polonaise no. 5 in F sharp minor, Op.44Polonaise no. 6 in A flat major, "Heroic," Op.53Polonaise no. 7 in A flat major "Polonaise-fantaisie", Op.61Prelude in A minor, Op.28 no.2Prelude in C sharp minor, Op.45Prelude in E minor, Op.28 no.4Scherzo no. 1 in B minor, Op.20Scherzo no. 2 in B flat minor, Op.31Scherzo no. 3 in C sharp minor, Op.39Scherzo no. 4 in E major, Op.54Sliczny chlopiec (the handsome lad) in D major, Op.74 no.8The Concert (or, The Perils of Everybody)Three Mazurkas, Op.56Three Mazurkas, Op.59Trio in G minor for piano, violin and cello, Op.8Two Nocturnes, Op.55Two Nocturnes, Op.62Variations in B flat major on "la ci darem la mano" for piano and orchestra, Op.2Voorbij gegaanWaltz in A Minor "Grande Valse Brillante", Op.34 no.2Waltz no. 5 in A flat major, Op.42Wojak (the warrior) in A flat major, Op.74 no.10