Monday, 29 June 2009

279. Frederic Chopin - Ballades (1835-43)


Title: 4 Ballades
Performers: Krystian Zimerman
Year: 1988
Length: 38 minutes


Chopin is that always reliable composer. He might by now be a complete cliché, but the truth is he got there by just being so good at what he did. These four Ballades, extensive single movement piano pieces, show off his skill at changing emotions in music.

So yeah I really liked this, the great highlights here are the first and fourth Ballades, maybe because they are longer and so Chopin has more space to develop his music.

Chopin is the distillation of Romantic piano music, at times he can be almost maudlin, but he never quite gets there, staying just on the right side of good taste. These pieces are perfect examples of the skill of Chopin at portraying constantly shifting emotions, the Ballade seems like a very free format and this just makes Chopin's exploration all that better.

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

The Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op. 23 is the first of Frédéric Chopin's four ballades for solo piano. It was composed in 1835-36 during the composer's early days in Paris and is dedicated to "Monsieur le Baron de Stockhausen," Hanoverian ambassador to France.

The ballade was played twice by Janusz Olejniczak in the Roman Polanski film The Pianist. The first time, a few bars are heard when the pianist Władysław Szpilman "plays the piano" in the air in the abandoned German hospital. The second time, an approximately 4 minute-cut is heard in the film, while a full version is included in the film soundtrack.

In the 1944 Ingrid Bergman film Gaslight, the ballade was played by a pianist at the musical gathering she attends.

In the 80s series Beauty and the Beast it can be heard in the third season episode entitled Walk Slowly on Catherine Chandler's sound system.

In the film Thank You For Smoking, the 2nd variation on the andante section can be heard in the background during Heather Holloway and Nick Naylor's conversation in the restaurant.

Zimerman plays Ballade no. 1:

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