Drapeau de Pologne

Compositeur: Chopin, Fryderyk Franciszek (1810-1849)

décembre 2017
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Yuja Wang à la Fondation Louis Vuitton, ou le luxe de l'aisance

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Maurizio Pollini en maître du chant et des songes

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Nelson Freire, l'âme de la musique en visite à la Roque-d'Anthéron

Quand Nelson Freire entre sur la scène, le silence se fait instantanément. 2000 personnes sont venues écouter ce vieil ami, fidèle du festival depuis sa deuxième édition, en 1982. 

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

Liste des oeuvres
12 Etudes, Op.102 Nocturnes, Op.272 Nocturnes, Op.4824 Préludes, Op.283 Nouvelles études, Op.posth3 Valses, Op.643 Valses, Op.705 Mazurkas, Op.7Andante spianato et Grande Polonaise brillante, Op.22Ballade no. 1 en sol mineur, Op. 23Ballade no. 2 en fa majeur, Op. 38Ballade no. 3 en la bémol majeur, Op. 47Ballade no. 4 en fa mineur, Op. 52Barcarolle en fa dièse majeur, Op.60Berceuse en ré bémol majeur, Op.57Concerto pour piano no. 1 en mi mineur, Op. 11Concerto pour piano no. 2 en fa mineur, Op. 21Dances at a GatheringDans la NuitDeux Nocturnes, Op.55Dumka (Rêverie), Op.posthDuo Concertant en mi majeur sur des thèmes de « Robert le Diable » de MeyerbeerEtude en mi majeur « Tristesse », Op.10 no. 3Etude en ut dièse mineur, Op.25 no. 7Etude en ut mineur « Révolutionnaire », Op.10 no. 12Fantaisie-impromptu en ut dièse mineur, Op.66Fantasie en fa mineur, Op.49Grandes Valses Brillantes, Op.34Impromptu en la bémol majeur, Op.29Introduction et Polonaise Brillante en ut majeur pour violoncelle et piano, Op.3Klavierkonzert Nr. 2 in f-Moll, Op.21: LarghettoLa Dame aux CaméliasMazurka en fa dièse mineur, Op.59 no. 3Mazurka en fa mineur, Op.7 no. 3Mazurka en la mineur, Op.17 no. 4Mazurka en ut dièse mineur, Op.50 no. 3MazurkasNocturne Op. 55 Nr. 2Nocturne en ut dièse mineur, « Lento Con Gran Espressione », Op.posthNocturne en ut mineur, KKIVb/ 8Nocturne no. 16 en mi bémol majeur, Op.55 no. 2Nocturne no. 18 en mi majeur, Op. 62 no. 2Nocturne no. 19 en mi mineur, Op.72 no. 1Nocturne no. 7 en ut dièse mineur, Op. 27 no. 1Nocturne no. 8 en ré bémol majeur, Op.27 no. 2Other DancesPiosnka litewska (Chant lituanien) en fa majeur, Op.74 no. 16Polonaise no. 3 en la majeur « Militaire », Op.40 no. 1Polonaise no. 5 en fa dièse mineur, Op.44Polonaise no. 6 en la bémol majeur, « Héroïque » Op.53Polonaise no. 7 en la bémol majeur « Polonaise- fantaisie », Op.61Prélude en mi mineur, Op.28 no. 4Prélude en si bémol majeur, Op.28 no. 21Quatre Mazurkas, Op.24Rondo à la Krakoviak en fa majeur pour piano et orchestre, Op.14Scherzo no. 1 en si mineur, Op.20Scherzo no. 2 en si bémol mineur, Op.31Scherzo no. 4 en mi majeur, Op.54Sliczny chlopiec (Le Solitaire) en ré majeur, Op.74 no. 8Sonate en sol mineur pour piano et violoncelle, Op.65Sonate pour piano no. 2 en si bémol mineur (marche funèbre), Op. 35Sonate pour piano no. 3 en si mineur, Op.58The Concert (or, The Perils of Everybody)Three Mazurkas, Op.59Trio en sol mineur pour piano, violon et violoncelle, Op.8Valse en la bémol majeur « Valse Brillante », Op.34 no. 1Valse no. 1 en mi bémol majeur « Grande Valse Brillante », Op.18Valse no. 5 en la bémol majeur, Op.42Valse no. 7 en ut dièse mineur, Op.64 no. 2Variations brillantes en si bémol majeur sur « Je vends des scapulaires », Op.12Variations en si bémol majeur sur « la ci darem la mano » pour piano et orchestre, Op.2Wojak (Le Guerrier) en la bémol majeur, Op.74 no. 10