It was linked to the “style brilliant”, characterised by great bravura, brilliance and technical display, as well as a fondness for tuneful, sentimental themes.
Particularly famous is its second movement (Larghetto), a temple of love and peace, seen as a musical confession of feeling, written during the period of Frédéric's first love for Konstancja Gladkoska. The Allegro vivace finale includes a stylisation of Mazurka elements, here treated with exceptional virtuosic bravura.
Chopin performed this concerto in public at the Theatre Narodowy in Warsaw, in March 1830. The combination of his personal individual style, kept in balance with a light and delicate accompaniment of the orchestra, made of Chopin a composer considered one of the most promising pianists and creative geniuses of his time.
The origins of the “Berceuse” are probably linked to Chopin's delight at the eighteen-month-old daughter of his friend, the singer Pauline Viardot. The little Louise won his heart and may well have inspired the composer to write a lullaby-style piece.
Here he produced one of the most extraordinary works, composed in an exceptionally refined and masterful way. The work is based on a four-bar theme, followed by a series of sixteen variations. Throughout virtually the entire piece, the right-hand part is accompanied by a fixed bass formula in the left, purposely static, which create unusual and innovative colouristic and tonal-harmonic effects, at times prefiguring musical impressionism. In keeping with the demands of a true lullaby, the “Berceuse” adheres to a piano and pianissimo dynamic.
Chopin’s Mazurkas would not exist without Polish folk dances and Polish folk music. With his Mazurkas, Chopin could convey his intimate love for his homeland along all his life. At the same time they demand of the pianist an almost naive freshness and a mature mastery…. an elegance and lightness….
In these pieces, Chopin made direct reference to three folk dances, which he knew well from numerous visits to the Polish countryside: the “Mazur”, the “Kujawiak” and the “Oberek”.
The “Mazur” is lively and temperamental in character, in a quite brisk tempo, with a tendency towards irregular accents; the “Kujawiak” in a slow tempo, with a tuneful melody and the “Oberek” is lively dance in a quick or very quick tempo, with a cheerful, or even exuberant, character. The Mazurka, Op. 68 No. 4 in F minor, written in the summer of 1849, is the last composition that he wrote.
The interpretation of Chopin’s music should go towards emphasizing its delicacy and elegance, incorporating the smallest of nuances, which mostly occur in a range of very slender sound. All these shades allow him to express his deepest feelings and his most intimate sensations.’’ This is what is really fascinating in Chopin’s music.
Although he often improvised his compositions we know that he often took several weeks putting them to paper. A perfectionist, Chopin chose each note with the same accuracy and thoroughness as a poet could elect one single word.
When Chopin died in France in 1849, his body was buried in Paris but his heart was returned to his beloved Poland. On his tombstone in Paris’ Pere Lachaise Cemetery is engraved the image of Euterpe, weeping over a broken Lyre. The compositions on this recording are the real mirror of his pure and elegant soul.
© 2015 Adolfo Barabino