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Chopin's op 13 - Fantasy on polish airs (Read 19902 times)

Offline cazico

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Chopin's op 13 - Fantasy on polish airs
« on: September 25, 2010, 10:14:37 AM »
I'm studying Chopin hardcore now, and explore his incredibly beautiful music.

I've always been the "intellectual" music guy, that is, preferring Bach and Mozart instead of more emotional stuff, and therefore I've perhaps a slight preference for Chopin's early pieces.
One of these is Op. 13 - Fantasy on polish airs. The thing is:
Why doesn't this beautiful piece of music get more attention??

I find this work, particularly the middle sections - the piano theme of section three beeing my favourite - extremely beautiful - full of harmony, elegance and brilliance.

I know that Chopin's orchestral skills has been criticized, and that his early works may lack structure and "suffer from" imperfect proportsions and over-abundant ornamentation and kind of "too-large-scale-virtuosity". However, first of all I hate judging music based on rules of composition and based on whether it follows normal structure and so on. Regarding the orchestration - the piano do all the job, that's the case in all of Chopin's music (with just some very few exceptions). The orchestra is just accompanying the piano. Chopin wasn't a composer for the orchestra, but still, the music in total with the orchestra in background, is incredibly beautiful, both Op. 13, 14, and of course the concertos op. 11 and 21.

I just find Op. 13 very good - most of all the three first sections, culminating in section three, and after listening to Chopin's music for a long time I've come to the conclusion that this piece may be underrated.

What's your opinion about Chopin's Op. 13?

Offline stevebob

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Re: Chopin's op 13 - Fantasy on polish airs
«Reply #1 on: September 25, 2010, 02:48:27 PM »
I love it, but there's very little by Chopin that I don't thoroughly love.

The question of why a piece doesn’t get more attention is an enduring one, and applies equally to Chopin and other composers (and even the entire oeuvres of plenty of presently neglected “also-rans”).  It can seem that with Chopin, about 50% of his corpus of work gets around 90% of people’s attention.  A number of formidable titles are overlooked, and the reasons for (and effect of) that circumstance are self-reinforcing:  because they’re “unpopular,” they’re underplayed; because they’re underexposed, they remain unpopular.

I think that the four concert pieces, Opp. 2, 13, 14 and 22, are fine works though with the qualification that they do reflect a stage in Chopin’s career when virtuosic display—stile brillant—was necessary and important for him.  Compared to the maturity and depth of the masterpieces of his later years, it’s easy to feel that style trumps substance in the earlier efforts.  But they’re still pure Chopin through and through!

With the exception of the concertos, there seems to be a bias in favor of Chopin’s music for solo piano.  And considering the currency of complaints about the thinness or even inessential aspect of his orchestrations, one wonders why the concert pieces aren’t consequently performed more frequently as solo pieces.  (I guess that the Grande Polonaise Op. 22 is a popular solo item, but the others ... not so much.)

An interesting aside is that as slight as the orchestra’s role is generally deemed in these six pieces for piano and orchestra, G. Schirmer formerly published a orchestral reduction of the concert pieces for second piano.  I’ve never seen it, and I’m pretty certain that even their Piano I edition is now out of print.

So which performance of Op. 13 have you been listening to?  Arthur Rubinstein recorded the piece in the 60s with Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra, which was a thoughtful addition to his recorded legacy; there’s a 2-CD Vox Box set from Abbey Simon called Chopin:  Complete Works for Piano & Orchestra which is competent, convenient and inexpensive.  I'm not familiar with any others, and I wonder how many there are to choose from.
What passes you ain't for you.

Offline thalbergmad

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Re: Chopin's op 13 - Fantasy on polish airs
«Reply #2 on: September 25, 2010, 04:27:21 PM »
Chopin wasn't a composer for the orchestra

Do you think he could have been if he had wanted to??

Thal
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Concerto Preservation Society

Offline cazico

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Re: Chopin's op 13 - Fantasy on polish airs
«Reply #3 on: September 25, 2010, 05:26:42 PM »
stevebob, your words make sense!

I haven't been listening to many performances of this piece (it's a pity it isn't more), so I can't really say which one is best, but I think Idil Biret (although she perhaps isn't the best Chopin interpreter in the world), has a good performance. I really recommend listening to her:

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(Op. 13, Theme de Charles Kurpinski (section 3) - the piano part from 0:59 is in my opinion one of the most elegant parts of music Chopin ever wrote)


Do you think he could have been if he had wanted to??

Thal

That's an interesting question.
I read a web page on the internet claiming:
"Chopin did not understand orchestration, which he freely admitted, and had help from friends, including Liszt, in scoring his two piano concerti. Even so, the orchestra takes a back seat while the piano indulges in the finest filigree work any composer has ever managed."
( http://listverse.com/2009/12/17/top-15-greatest-composers-of-all-time/ )

The Liszt thing must be pure bullshit, but I think, to some degree, that the critisism of Chopin's orchestration has some substance. (Compare the orchestra part of Chopin's concertos to, for example Rach 3 - but in my opinion Chopin's concertos is almost as good, because the orchestra doesn't have that complex role in Chopin's music, I'm convinced that it wasn't that Chopin COULDN'T write for the orchestra, but rather because he wanted the orchestra to be in background, "emphasizing" the piano.)

If he had fully dedicated his life to writing music for the orchestra, what then...? I don't know. He was a genius, but I don't think the orchestra offered Chopin the possibilites he looked for.

Offline thalbergmad

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Re: Chopin's op 13 - Fantasy on polish airs
«Reply #4 on: September 25, 2010, 06:39:11 PM »
I'm convinced that it wasn't that Chopin COULDN'T write for the orchestra, but rather because he wanted the orchestra to be in background, "emphasizing" the piano.)

I have recently read a biography about Chopin by Adam Zamoyski and he raises some important points concerning Chopin's orchestrations and the lack of symphonic works.

Liszt (apparently) said "if Chopin never tried his hand at symphonic music in any of its forms, it was becuase he did not want to. He continues "it was not out of some extreme modesty or misplaced disdain, it was the pure and simple consequence of the form which suited his sentiment best"

The author also adds that the neurotic perfectionism which kept Chopin struggling for up to a week on the composition of a few bars would have resulted in a symphony taking 5 years to compose and an Opera over 10. In addition, Chopin had witnesed the harrowing problems that faced Berlioz each time he wanted to put on a performance of one of his works, and Meyerbeer having to wait six years to see a performance of one of his operas. Physicially, I don't think Chopin's delicate constitution would have withsood all of this.

The orchestration of his Concertos were typical of the age. Composers such as Herz, Thalberg, Burgmuller & Dobrinsky wrote concertos with the piano in prominence as did other earlier romantics.

I am no Chopin scholar, but it seems to me that his orchestrations had nothing to do with lack of artistic vision or ability.

Thal
Curator/Director
Concerto Preservation Society

Offline mistermoe

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Re: Chopin's op 13 - Fantasy on polish airs
«Reply #5 on: September 25, 2010, 08:40:23 PM »
I have never listened to this piece. I think i didn't even really know this piece existed  :-\ Shame on me. I will talk to Mr Youtube soon.

When i was a little child and i heard the chopin concerti for the first time, i remember being completely overwhelmed by the orchertral exposition of the e minor concerto. I was shocked when i started to realize that chopin was critizised for his orchestration by a lot of musicians.

Of course it's no beethovenian orchestration but it says everything that it has to say.

Perhaps we should see the world through the eyes of our childhood once in a while...

The orchestration of his Concertos were typical of the age. Composers such as Herz, Thalberg, Burgmuller & Dobrinsky wrote concertos with the piano in prominence as did other earlier romantics.

It's funny, i just started to listen to some of the audio examples of those piano concerti on the hyperion page yesterday and i have to admit, that i did like a lot of it. I just went back there and listened to the henri herz samples. There's a lot going on in the violins which reminds me of chopins concerti (tremoli, most of the melodies). The use of herz' wind instruments on the other hand makes me think of the freischutz by weber a lot. Is that typical for his music?

Offline thalbergmad

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Re: Chopin's op 13 - Fantasy on polish airs
«Reply #6 on: September 25, 2010, 09:59:28 PM »
I have not actually listened to any Herz concertos for ages, but i think that probably is typical. To be honest, I don't pay a great deal of attention to the orchestration in concertos like them.

His style pretty much remained constant and i doubt if there is a great deal of difference between the 8th and the 1st.

Thal
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Concerto Preservation Society

Offline shaulhadar

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Re: Chopin's op 13 - Fantasy on polish airs
«Reply #7 on: October 22, 2010, 06:05:20 AM »
This Fantasy op. 13 is indeed a great work and is underrated.  It has some of Chopin's most daring and strange passages, and also beautiful moments which last forever.  This piece was written when Chopin was younger, as you written here, the style brilliant was dominant these days, and even Chopin could resist this type of writing.  The fantasy is actually based on some Polish songs, and i think that when it is played in Poland, it actually has a lot of more power, because it reminds people of those old folk songs. 

About Chopin's orchestration, well.....it is true that his orchestral parts are not praised, but we need to remember that all of his orchestra pieces were written in the time he emphesized his virtuso  and writer carreer, and not his composer one, so he wrote things to impact people's minds.  I also think that his orchestral writings were good, but he never liked it too much to master it, it was a tool for him, unlike his piano, which was his soul.  I am sure that if he wrote a piece with orchestral instruments in the later period in his life, it whould have been something else. Check out his last composition, the sonata op .65 for piano and cello to see what could have been.

i wish we could get another concerto by him, but we need to say thanks for what we already have from him.
I have an enormous craving for Chopin's music, which is unusual for most normal and not normal people out there.

http://chopin-opus.66ghz.com/