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Composer: Chopin, Fryderyk Franciszek (1810-1849)

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AmsterdamEuropean Union Youth Orchestra

© Harald Hoffmann
Bernstein, Chopin, Tchaikovsky
European Union Youth Orchestra; Gianandrea Noseda; Seong-Jin Cho

WarsawSymphonic Concert

Silvestrov, Chopin
Kremerata Baltica; Gidon Kremer; Yulianna Avdeeva

WarsawChamber concert

Schubert, Chopin
Kevin Kenner; Quatuor Mosaïques

SalzburgRecital PolliniRecitals

Brahms, Schumann, Chopin
Maurizio Pollini, Piano

WarsawChamber concert

Żeleński, Chopin, Shostakovich
Adrien Perruchon; Sergei Dogadin; Alexander Knyazev; Plamena Mangova; Andrei Pushkarev
Latest reviewsSee more...

Seong-Jin Cho shows maturity and subtlety in Verbier recital

Seong-Jin Cho © Harald Hoffmann | DG
In a passionate and evocative programme, South Korean pianist Seong-Jin Cho shows that his interpretive skills can start to blossom beyond mere technical prowess. 
****1
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Intimacy and brilliant showmanship from Yuja Wang at the Barbican

Yuja Wang © Ian Douglas
A truly remarkable display from a musical giant as Yuja Wang wows the Barbican. 
*****
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All Robbins at NYCB

When de Luz reached down and laid his hand on the floor in the final Nocturne, it suggested to me that, on this night and with these dancers, the stage was sacred ground.
****1
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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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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.482 Polonaises, Op.4024 Preludes, Op.283 Mazurkas, Op.503 Nocturnes, Op.154 Mazurkas, Op.415 Mazurkas, Op.17Allegro de Concert, A major, Op.46Andante 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.57Bolero, Op.19Cello Sonata in G minor, Op.65Dances at a GatheringDuo Concertant in E major based on themes from Meyerbeer's "Robert le Diable"Ecossaise in D flat major, Op.72 no.5Ecossaise in D major, Op.72 no.3Ecossaise in G major, Op.72 no.4Etude in A flat Major, Etudes de la Méthode des Méthodes no. 2Etude in A flat major, Op.25 no.1Etude in C Minor, Op.25 no.12Etude in C minor "Revolutionary" , Op.10 no.12Etude in C sharp minor, Op.25 no.7Etude in D flat Major, Etudes de la Méthode des Méthodes no. 3Etude in F Minor, Etudes de la Méthode des Méthodes no. 1Etude in G flat major, Op.10 no.5Fantasy in F minor, Op.49Four Mazurkas, Op.24Grande Polonaise Brillante in E flat major for piano and orchestra, Op.22Impromptu Fantasie in C sharp minor, Op.66Impromptu in A flat major, Op.29Impromptu in F sharp major, Op.36Impromptu in G flat major, Op.51In The NightIntroduction and Polonaise Brillante in C major for cello and piano, Op.3Introduction in C minor and Rondo in E flat major, Op.16La Dame aux caméliasLes SylphidesMazurka in A flat major, Op.17 no.3Mazurka in A flat major, Op.50 no.2Mazurka in A minor, Op.17 no.4Mazurka in A minor, Op.67 no.4Mazurka in A minor, Op.68 no.2Mazurka in B flat major, Op.17 no.1Mazurka in B flat minor, Op.7 no.1Mazurka in B minor, Op.30 no.2Mazurka in B minor, Op.33 no.4Mazurka in C major, Op.68 no.1Mazurka in C sharp minor, Op.30 no.4Mazurka in C sharp minor, Op.50 no.3Mazurka in C sharp minor, Op.63 no.3Mazurka in D major, Op.33 no.2Mazurka in F minor, Op.7 no.3Mazurka in F sharp minor, Op.59 no.3Mazurka in G major, Op.50 no.1Mazurka in G major, Op.67 no.1Mazurka in G minor, Op.67 no.2Melodia (elegy) in G major, Op.74 no.9Nocturne in C sharp minor, "Lento Con Gran Espressione", Op. posth, B 49Nocturne no. 1 in B flat minor, Op.9 no.1Nocturne no. 10 in A flat major, Op.32 no.2Nocturne 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. 17 in B major, Op.62 no.1Nocturne no. 18 in E major, Op.62 no.2Nocturne no. 19 in E minor, Op.72 no.1Nocturne no. 2 in E flat major, Op.9 no.2Nocturne no. 21 in C minor (posthumous)Nocturne no. 3 in B major, Op.9 no.3Nocturne no. 4 in F major, Op.15 no.1Nocturne no. 5 in F sharp major, Op.15 no.2Nocturne no. 7 in C sharp minor, Op.27 no.1Nocturne no. 8 in D flat major, Op.27 no.2Nocturne no. 9 in B major, Op.32 no.1Nocturne no.2 in E flat major, Op.9 no.2Nocturnes: selectionOther DancesPiano 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. 1 in C sharp minor, Op.26 no.1Polonaise no. 15 in G sharp minor, Op. posthPolonaise no. 3 in A major "Military", Op.40 no.1Polonaise 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.61Polonaise no. 9 in B flat major, Op.71 no.2Prelude in A flat major, (Presto con leggerezza), Op. posthPrelude in A minor, Op.28 no.2Prelude in C sharp minor, Op.45Prelude in D flat major "Raindrop", Op.28 no.15Rondo à la Krakoviak in F major for piano and orchestra, Op.14Rondo à la Mazur in F major, Op.5Scherzo 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.8Songs: selectionSouvenir de Paganini: Variations in A majorTarantella in A flat major, Op.43The 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.62Variations brillantes in B flat major on "je vends des scapulaires", Op.12Variations in E Major on "steh' auf, steh' auf o du Schweitzer bub"Voorbij gegaanWaltz in A Minor "Grande Valse Brillante", Op.34 no.2Waltz in A flat major "Valse Brillante", Op.34 no.1Waltz in E flat major, Op. posth, KKIVb/10Waltz in F major "Grande Valse Brillante", Op.34 no.3Waltz no. 1 in E flat major "Grande Valse Brillante", Op.18Waltz no. 10 in B minor, Op.69 no.2Waltz no. 11 in G flat major, Op.70 no.1Waltz no. 12 in F minor, Op.70 no.2Waltz no. 13 in D flat major, Op.70 no.3Waltz no. 14 in E minor (posthumous)Waltz no. 19 in A minor, Op.posth, KKIV b/11Waltz no. 5 in A flat major, Op.42Waltz no. 6 in D flat major "Minute Waltz", Op.64 no.1Waltz no. 7 in C sharp minor, Op.64 no.2Waltz no. 8 in A flat major, Op.64 no.3Waltz no. 9 in A flat major "L'Adieu", Op.69 no.1Waltzes - variousWojak (the warrior) in A flat major, Op.74 no.10Zyczenie (a young girl's wish) in G major, Op.74 no.1