Sunday, 29 July 2012

Frederic Chopin - Nocturne Op. 27 No. 2

Frederic Chopin
1810 - 1849
Looking through all of my past posts, I was very surprised to see that I had neglected one of my favourite Romantic composers: Frederic Chopin. Chopin is best known not only as a composer, but as a virtuosic pianist. Because of his talent - and the way he used it to create intricacy in his compositions - it was inevitable that Chopin's piano works would become some of the most loved pieces in the repertoire for the piano. Moreover, he is considered one of the great masters of Romantic music.

Chopin's love of the piano is obvious from the fact that most of his works are for piano, and any additional compositions at least feature the instrument. However, it is not only the current pianists of the world that appreciate his work, but also his contemporaries such as Schumann and Liszt, who described him as a: "gentle, harmonious genius". Some of Chopin's most well-known works include the 'Revolutionary Etude', the 'Minute Waltz' and the third movement of his Funeral March

Arthur Rubinstein
1887 - 1982
I came across this piece whilst looking through my collection of piano music, and, after listening to a recording by renowned pianist Arthur Rubinstein, I completely fell in love with it. Typical of most of Chopin's Nocturnes, this work carries a distinctive melody in the right hand, which is one of the most important features of the whole piece. As well as this, Chopin pairs his effortless melody line with an accompaniment of broken chords to sustain rhythm and movement underneath the sometimes confusing and unexpected cross-rhythms of the melody. Finally, Chopin emphasises a need for the sustain pedal, which he believed emphasised the emotional expression of the music. It is clear that Chopin's Nocturnes made a lasting effect on the Romantic period, as they influenced the music of other Romantic composers such as BrahmsWagner and Mendelssohn. One particularly obvious influence from this Nocturne is the similarity that the beginning has with Liszt's Consolation in Db major - have a listen here and see if you can spot the difference!

This recording is performed by one of the most incredible pianists of all time: Arthur Rubinstein. Not only is he considered to be one of the greatest Classical pianists of the twentieth century, but many regard him as the greatest Chopin interpreter of his time - and, at the time of his death, the New York Times said: "Chopin is his speciality".

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