Tuesday, 6 January 2009

223. Frédéric Chopin - Mazurkas (1820 - 47)


Title: Mazurkas
Performer: Garrick Ohlsson
Year: 1999
Length: 2 hours 30 minutes


Mazurkas are traditional Polish dances and Chopin composed more of them than anything else in his life. It is therefore appropriate that those would be the first pieces of music by this revolutionary piano composer to show up on the list. In fact it will take a while for anything else by Chopin to appear here as he started composing Mazurkas when he was 9!

The music in this collection is surprisingly revolutionary, perhaps because it takes in a scope of 27 years, but even the earlier pieces are chromatic in a way not apparent before in piano music. This might have something to do with the folk influence but Chopin's sheer genius is obviously also a factor here.

Because these 57 Mazurkas are all in the same rhythm of 3/3 it can at times feel a bit samey, they is a result of the dance's format, still you can find enough pearls here and enough brilliant music for it to be well worth your time. This sounds different from anything here until now, at times the simplicity of the music is almost reminiscent of Satie, often the dances are of a great tenderness which is a very Chopin thing. Great music.

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

The mazurka is a stylized Polish folk dance in triple meter with a lively tempo that has a heavy accent on the third or second beat. Its folk origins are the slow kujawiak and the fast oberek. It is always found to have either a triplet, trill, dotted eighth note pair, or an ordinary eighth note pair before two quarter notes. The dance became popular at ballroom dances in the rest of Europe during the nineteenth century. The Polish national anthem has a mazurka rhythm but is too slow to be considered a mazurka.

Mazurka in Polish is mazurek, derived from the word mazur, which up to nineteenth century referred to an inhabitant of the Mazovia region of Poland, and which also was the root of the term Masuria). Mazurka is the genitive and accusative case of mazurek.

Several classical composers have written mazurkas, with the best known being the 57 composed by Frédéric Chopin for solo piano. Henryk Wieniawski wrote two for violin with piano (the popular "Obertas", op. 19), and in the 1920s, Karol Szymanowski wrote a set of twenty for piano and finished his composing career with a final pair in 1934.

Op. 50 no. 3:

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