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Topic: Which mazurkas make them chopin's best compositions  (Read 13197 times)

Offline pencilart3

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A lot of people recently have been saying that Frederick's mazurkas are his best pieces. Perhaps this is to avoid the chopin adoring noob stereotype, but I would be interested to know which mazurkas you believe are some of Chopin's "finest output" (chopinlover) thanks :)
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Offline visitor

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Re: Which mazurkas make them chopin's best compositions
Reply #1 on: July 28, 2016, 06:08:42 PM
as you know from our previous discussions here and pm the mazurkas are the only pieces of Chopin I like as a whole group/entire output. I don't care for the other solo stuff  except maybe an exception and unique rendition of an isolated piece here and there and also 2 preludes (the little A major and slow C minor)., so I hold these in high regard right alongside the trio and cello sonata.

The op. 63 set is a neat one to explore first, here is a good recording of 3rd

btw as far as mazurkas go Scriabin's and Szymanowski's are super cool too (as far as composers that did a lot of them/sets of them vs just 1 or a few).
here's a good program notes excerpt for the set

...As the name implies, the polonaise originated in Poland, probably during the late Middle
Ages, as a vocal folk dance (polonez) in triple meter, a festive couples dance in moderate
tempo with a characteristic upbeat introduction to its short phrases. From its peasant origins,
it gradually became popular with the landed gentry. It assumed its characteristic stately
character as it progressed up the social ladder. By the eighteenth century, Princess Anna
Maria of Saxony (1728–97), daughter of King Augustus III of Poland, enhanced the
popularity of the dance in Western Europe, where it acquired its French name, polonaise.
During this century it came to be associated with Polish nationalism as the country was
continually threatened and eventually partitioned by its neighbors.
The two Polonaises, Op. 40 were composed in 1838 and published two years later. They
were dedicated to Julian Fontana, pianist, lawyer, composer and close friend and musical
executor of Chopin. The two had been friends at the conservatory in Warsaw, and Fontana,
who also escaped to Paris, traveled extensively, with lengthy stays in London, New York and
Havana, eventually returning to Paris. In 1855 he published some of Chopin’s unpublished
In the most general sense, the mazurka is a Polish folk dance in triple meter from the
Mazovia district near Warsaw. Mazurka is really an umbrella name for a number of related
dances: the fiery Mazurek, the lively Oberek or the slower and more sentimental Kujawiak.
All three dances originated from the older Polska, a dance in which a strong accent falls on
the second or third beat, accompanied by a tap of the heel. The mazurka spread into Germany
in the eighteenth century as a social dance, but it was primarily Chopin who introduced it
into art music as an expression of his nationalistic sentiment. He composed his first Mazurka
at age ten, the last two in the year of his death. His more than 50 mazurkas reflect its multiple
origins in that they encompass a variety of moods and tempi while still retaining the unusual
rhythmic pattern. They became the vehicle for some of his most innovative writing,
involving a large variety of moods, constant mixing of major and minor tonalities and
uncommon modal scales. Like his waltzes and polonaises, his mazurkas were not meant for
actual dancing. The common pianistic style of infusing them all with multiple rubato
passages would make any dancer stumble over his feet.
Nor do Chopin’s mazurkas particularly evoke a “peasant” simplicity. Chopin was an
innovator who for his time stretched tonality and chromaticism to their limits. In this aspect,
he resembles his contemporary Hector Berlioz.
The three mazurkas Op. 63 were composed in the fall of 1846, at a time when Chopin’s
health was rapidly deteriorating and his 10-year relationship with author George Sand was on
the skids. That relationship was not helped by the fact that the mazurkas were dedicated to
Comtesse Laura de Czosnowska, an old family friend, who visited Chopin on the Sand estate
and – conversing with him in Polish – gave rise to considerable resentment. Sand
commented: “Between you and me, she is not a person who would particularly be to my
liking. She has too many trifles on her dresses, and her musk-scented billets give me a
migraine. I do not see that she is so simple and holy as Chopin believes. But meeting her and
talking about his country and family evidently gives him such pleasure that I show her the
most far-reaching consideration.” Chopin saw things differently: “Although they were polite
to her here, after she left, first little jokes, from little jokes to coarseness.”
Following Chopin, few composers embraced the mazurka. The exception is Skryabin, who
composed 21 over his lifetime, and another Polish composer, Karol Szymanowski, who
wrote 22 mazurkas for the piano in the 1920s...

Offline pencilart3

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Re: Which mazurkas make them chopin's best compositions
Reply #2 on: July 28, 2016, 06:35:21 PM
Thanks for the insightful post visitor! I will look into that set. Really appreciate it :)
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Offline mjames

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Re: Which mazurkas make them chopin's best compositions
Reply #3 on: July 28, 2016, 06:53:34 PM
I don't consider them his best, to me late/mature Chopin's music is pretty much all top class; hard to choose.

Anyways while I do like the entire output in general his early mazurkas are basically pretty and well crafted. The brilliant imagination and originality starts to kick in with his opus 30 (especially the 4th in c sharp minor). I feel like around opus op. 41 is when they start transforming into an entire style of music of their own, distinguishable from and completely surpasses its predecessors (chopin's own and his compatriots'/contemporaries mazurka compositions.) Op. 50 no. 3 is absolutely awesome, it's just freaking brilliant. The modulations, the rhythms, the style, the counterpoint...ugh so fun to play. Everything from op. 56 and up is just freaking brilliant. All masterpieces. Op. 56 no.3 and op. 59 no. 1 are on my next to do list.

I think the only other composers (that I know of) that have managed to completely change the mazurka genre into something original and engaging are Syzmanowski and Scriabin. Unfortunately Scriabin didn't do much with the mazurka form during his late years, would have been fascinating if he did.

Anyways it's only fitting that his last composition was a mazurka...

Though I don't consider them to be his best works, I do consider them to be the 'heart' of Chopin. You won't fully 'get' Chopin unless you get the mazurkas. Of course this is just my own personal bias...
For me:
Op. 50 no.3
Op. 56
Op. 59
Op. 63
F minor posthu
Op. 41 e minor
Op. 30 c sharpminor


Offline pencilart3

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Re: Which mazurkas make them chopin's best compositions
Reply #4 on: July 28, 2016, 07:55:28 PM
completely agree about 50/3. Actually the whole op 50 set I just adore. Anyway thanks for that insight mjames! I appreciate it!
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Offline chopinawesome

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Re: Which mazurkas make them chopin's best compositions
Reply #5 on: July 31, 2016, 04:11:51 AM
Personally, I love all of Chopin's dances(waltzes,mazurkas,polonaises,etc.) :)

IMO,Chopin's Mazurkas are very lively and brilliant works. Though short, many are nice crowd-pleasers. My favorite ones are :
B flat Major 7/1
g minor 24/1
e minor 17/2
b flat minor 24/4
c sharp minor 30/4
b minor 33/4
B Major 41/2
G Major and c sharp minor 50/1 and 3
All of Op.56,especially no.1
All of Op.59
c sharp minor 63/3
G 67/1
f minor 68/4

I also think some of Chopin's mazurkas are some of his best works. Chopin must have put a lot of work into them because they are close to his homeland. Op.56/1 is one of my favorite works.

Another reason why I like mazurkas because many pianists play them with rubato. They play them freely and expressively.

The Op.56 set has to be up there.

Beethoven Op 2/2
Chopin Op 20, maybe op 47/38
Debussy Etude 7
Grieg Op 16
Want to do:
Chopin Concerti 1 and 2
Beethoven Waldstein
Ravel Miroirs

Offline tinctoria88

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Re: Which mazurkas make them chopin's best compositions
Reply #6 on: August 02, 2016, 09:38:20 PM
Recently I also posted about Chopin's Mazurkas, but focusing on topic of influence of Polish folk dance.  My curiosity was fueded by a dissertation: "Gestural  Patterns in Kujaw Folk Performing Traditions: Implications for the Performer of Chopin’s Mazurkas" by Monika Zaborowski
 University of Victoria, 2009.  In her introduction, which has some fascinating challenges for today's interpreter of Chopin's Mazurkas, she notes:  "This thesis demonstrates that without the critical examination of Polish folk music and its performance style, Chopin’s mazurkas cannot fulfill their full depth of meaning, and thus will deprive the performer of the wealth of aesthetic beauty that is embedded in these works."
I'm just now trying to read her observations at a leisurely pace.  Her opening story of Chopin becoming angry with Meeyerbeer fpr insisting he heard 2/4 instead of 3/4 while listening to Chopin play a mazurka captured my curiosity.  I think her writing is well worth sampling various chapters;;one has to do with Polish folk fiddling heard by Chopin.  Link to PDF is https://dspace.library.uvic.ca:8443/bitstream/handle/1828/4914/Zaborowski_Monika_MAMus_2013.pdf?sequence=6&isAllowed=y

Is anyone familiar with all 3 recordings by Arthur Rubinstein of the mazurkas?--1938,  52, 65?  She mentions his widely varying interpretations via recording date of these mazurkas.  Are all of these available from PianoStreet's Audio/Visual Study recordings?

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