Piano Forum



The Complete Piano Works of 15 Composers
Piano Street’s digital sheet music library is constantly growing. With the additions made during the past months, we now offer the complete solo piano works by fifteen of the most famous Classical, Romantic and Impressionist composers in the web’s most pianist friendly user interface. Read more >>

Topic: Confession: I both like and don't like Chopin  (Read 1641 times)

Offline lelle

  • PS Gold Member
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2247
Confession: I both like and don't like Chopin
on: January 27, 2023, 04:46:46 PM
I have a confession to make:

Chopin is probably my favorite composer in terms of having the most pieces I absolutely adore. At the same time, he has many pieces I don't particularly care for.

At his worst, I feel he can be kinda corny and repetitive. For example, I feel the "Military" Polonaise in A major Op. 40 fits into this category. I feel most of the material is kind of corny and he repeats it sooo many times damn. I have similar feelings about the Polonaise Op. 26 no 2. Which is weird, because I adore the Etudes Op. 25 which were published right before it, and I consider them masterpieces.

I think Chopin had some issues which managing larger forms/structures to pieces, and does better when he constructed narratives that feel quasi-improvised (see the Ballades and the Polonaise-Fantasie, for example), where he doesn't get so repetitive.

Discuss. Do you agree with me?
Frédéric Chopin:
- Top pieces & piano scores to download
- Biography & quotes
- Related forum topics & articles

Offline frodo3

  • PS Silver Member
  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 124
Re: Confession: I both like and don't like Chopin
Reply #1 on: January 27, 2023, 05:35:18 PM
I have a confession to make:

Chopin is probably my favorite composer in terms of having the most pieces I absolutely adore. At the same time, he has many pieces I don't particularly care for.

At his worst, I feel he can be kinda corny and repetitive. For example, I feel the "Military" Polonaise in A major Op. 40 fits into this category. I feel most of the material is kind of corny and he repeats it sooo many times damn. I have similar feelings about the Polonaise Op. 26 no 2. Which is weird, because I adore the Etudes Op. 25 which were published right before it, and I consider them masterpieces.

I think Chopin had some issues which managing larger forms/structures to pieces, and does better when he constructed narratives that feel quasi-improvised (see the Ballades and the Polonaise-Fantasie, for example), where he doesn't get so repetitive.

Discuss. Do you agree with me?

Great post.  Chopin is among the greatest composers that ever lived.  In some respects, he is superior to all but a few - but he limited his output to a relatively small set of works for the piano – understanding his short life and poor health – and this results in his being lower on the totem-pole.  In some ways, he reminds me of D Scarlatti.

I agree that he has some issues with managing larger forms/structures to pieces.  Robert Schumann was critical of his 2nd piano sonata because he felt it was hodgepodge of mismatched pieces tossed together.  I tend to agree with this, although I believe it to be a masterpiece.  The last movement takes us forward in time maybe 70 years.

As far as "Military" Polonaise and Polonaise Op. 26 no 2 – I love both of these masterpieces.  They are among my favorite works of his.  Repetition can be an EXTREMELY POWERFUL AND MOVING device if the material being repeated is of greatness.  Here are 2 GREAT examples of extremely repetitive pieces that are extremely powerful, moving pieces:

Stravinsky – Dance Russa from Petrouchka - After ALL the extreme repetitions, listen to the ending starting at minute marker 2:18!  Here he thumbs his nose at all that think he is too repetitive!!  ;D  :D  ;D  :D  ;D  :D



Bach BWV 615 – In dir ist Freude from Orgelbuchlein.  Note the constant repetition of “Sol, Sol, Fa, Mi” - about 1 minute and 10 seconds of the first 1:25 of the piece is “Sol, Sol, Fa, Mi”.



Offline frodo3

  • PS Silver Member
  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 124
Re: Confession: I both like and don't like Chopin
Reply #2 on: January 27, 2023, 09:08:30 PM
I think Chopin had some issues which managing larger forms/structures to pieces, and does better when he constructed narratives that feel quasi-improvised (see the Ballades and the Polonaise-Fantasie, for example), where he doesn't get so repetitive.

Just a couple more thoughts.   :)

Keep in mind that the format of the Military polonaise (for example) is ABA which is repetitive by nature and with the repeats he marks, it is going to be repetitive.  This polonaise is NOT a larger form/structure piece.

Also, look at his piano sonata #3.  The first mvt is in strict sonata allegro form and lasts about 14 minutes when the exposition is repeated.  This is a larger form structure.  This movement is very successful IMO and is not overly repetitive in any way.  In fact, he skips the 1st theme in the recapitulation.

EDIT:
Just reread your original post.  You feel that the Military polonaise sounds corny.  So it appears that this is the problem rather than the repetition?  I feel that Grieg's piano concerto sounds corny in places.  Something in my past must have made me feel that way.  But I am able to "reboot" my brain in a way that I can overcome this and enjoy the concerto.  No problem if you feel this way about that polonaise.  I guess I'm lucky in that I don't feel that way.  I hear rich, massive chords - or as described elsewhere about Arthur Rubinstein's feelings about this piece -

"Its exuberant trills and heroic octaves do indeed evoke the fanfare that might accompany a triumphant army. It’s often observed that this polonaise is unique in Chopin’s oeuvre in that it completely avoids dynamic contrast. Chopin marked his score Allegro con brio, energico and fortissimo; he intended it to be played very loud, very fast, and with great verve, all of which are present in Rubinstein’s stirring performance.was Chopin’s A major “Military” Polonaise.  In the early years of the occupation all of Chopin’s music was officially banned from the airwaves, but this Polonaise nevertheless became a fixture of Polish radio, serving as the “Signal of Warsaw” that began each broadcast.  The A major Polonaise held a special, and deeply personal, meaning for Arthur Rubinstein, whose performance was chosen by the Librarian of Congress for its National Recording Registry as the iconic reading of this revered work. In his memoir, Rubinstein wrote that “speaking of Chopin’s music is for me like confessing my greatest love.” Born in 1887 to a Jewish family in the Polish city of Łodź, which was then still part of the Russian Empire, for Rubinstein hearing Chopin’s music was “like coming home.” In 1939, while vacationing in the French seaside resort of Deauville, he learned in a radio broadcast that his homeland had fallen to the Nazis; what immediately followed the message that Warsaw had been bombed by the German air force. was Chopin’s A major “Military” Polonaise. In the early years of the occupation all of Chopin’s music was officially banned from the airwaves, but this Polonaise nevertheless became a fixture of Polish radio, serving as the “Signal of Warsaw” that began each broadcast."

In my case, I listened to all the Chopin polonaises when I was about 10 years old in a wonderful recording by Alexander Brailowsky recoded around 1964.  I loved ALL of the 6 mature polonaises on the album but did not like nearly as much the 3 op. 71 polonaises on the album that were written when Chopin was about 15-18 years old.

Offline droprenstein

  • PS Silver Member
  • Jr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 71
Re: Confession: I both like and don't like Chopin
Reply #3 on: January 28, 2023, 05:50:43 AM
I agree with most of your post. I adore many(most) of Chopin's pieces, but a couple of his works(especially in his early years) sound a bit like copy pasting. His Opus 2 is an exception; I think it's superior to a lot of his middle and even late works.

Something I very much disagree with, though, is your thoughts on his long forms. Yes, in that regard, Chopin is inferior to the likes of Beethoven or Brahms or Rachmaninoff, but that's an extremely high bar. Despite being inferior to the masters of long forms/structures, they're still excellent pieces. His 3rd Sonata is one of my favorite piano pieces.

Also, to be fair, Chopin's repetition is often forced by the ABA form, which is what he uses for all of his etudes and other pieces.

Offline frodo3

  • PS Silver Member
  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 124
Re: Confession: I both like and don't like Chopin
Reply #4 on: January 28, 2023, 09:31:25 PM
Also, to be fair, Chopin's repetition is often forced by the ABA form, which is what he uses for all of his etudes and other pieces.

But the Military polonaise is a special ABA – a VERY repetitive version. Here is my final post to this thread.  I think Lelle asks a great question here and I’m surprised more people are not jumping in.

I did quick analysis of the Chopin Military polonaise – very easy to do for this piece.  Each of the following subsections that are numbered 1, 2, 3, 4 are exactly 8 measures long.

The A section has the following 8 measure subsections with repeats:
1  1  2  1  2  1

The B section has the following 8 measure subsections with repeats:
3  3’  3  3’ 4  3  3’  4  3  3’

Where 3’ is a modified version of 3.  4 is the section with trills.

The A section is then repeated without repeats.  This leaves the following for the entire piece with repeats:

Military polonaise = 1  1  2  1  2  1  3  3’  3  3’  4  3  3’  4  3  3’  1  2  1

The 1 subsection is repeated 6 times!
The 3 subsection (including 3’) is repeated 8 times!
The 2 subsection is repeated 3 times
The 4 subsection (trills) is repeated 2 times.
VERY repetitive indeed!

I know Lelle is talented and has a great musical ear – this is not the issue. 

1) REPETITION:
My questions:  Listen to the 2 samples I provided in my earlier post here – The Stravinsky and the Bach.  I can do an analysis if you like (in another thread), but these pieces are actually more repetitive than this Chopin polonaise.  Do you like either of these pieces?  If yes – then repetition is likely not the problem in the Chopin polonaise.  If no – why not?  Is it the extreme repetition?

2) "CORNY":
Final thought in the notion of music being “corny” to a listener:
This can happen for a number of reasons.  Example:  The funeral march to the Chopin piano sonata #2 may sound corny to many.  How can this be?  Well,  how many buggs bunny and other cartoons or sitcoms or commercials used this theme?  Probably several dozens.  The piece can sound corny to me if I don’t reboot and reprogram my brain – but this can be VERY DIFFICULT to do.  If a piece of music sounds corny to you – try to identify where this feeling may have originated from.  A cartoon?  This can be tough to figure out! 

Best wishes to all!  :)  :D  ;D

Offline brogers70

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1627
Re: Confession: I both like and don't like Chopin
Reply #5 on: January 29, 2023, 12:08:34 AM
I guess I like and dislike Chopin, too. Lots of his music is beautiful and he gets all sorts of effects out of the instrument. Beautiful in a direct, sensual sort of way. And some of it has an emotional impact beyond simply being beautiful. Still, I just don't get the same complex emotional response to his music as I do to Brahms or late Beethoven, and Chopin often seems to me to be a lot of beautiful surface without so very much inside. I wouldn't take this too far, there's lots of great stuff there, but it just doesn't grab me emotionally as much as the three B's or Schubert.

Offline lelle

  • PS Gold Member
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2247
Re: Confession: I both like and don't like Chopin
Reply #6 on: January 29, 2023, 11:00:42 PM
Just a couple more thoughts.   :)

Keep in mind that the format of the Military polonaise (for example) is ABA which is repetitive by nature and with the repeats he marks, it is going to be repetitive.  This polonaise is NOT a larger form/structure piece.


Great reading all your input! I appreciated your breakdown of the military Polonaise, it does illustrate my point.

Keep in mind though that it's entirely up to Chopin to put the work in an ABA structure and create multiple repeats of each section. It's not like he is forced to use that form in that particular way. Most of his Polonaises follow a sort of ABA structure, but in most cases it's modified to create variation, with the return of the A part, for example, being shortened, or the B part being a variety of material and not 500 repeats of the same theme ;)

I agree with most of your post. I adore many(most) of Chopin's pieces, but a couple of his works(especially in his early years) sound a bit like copy pasting. His Opus 2 is an exception; I think it's superior to a lot of his middle and even late works.

Something I very much disagree with, though, is your thoughts on his long forms. Yes, in that regard, Chopin is inferior to the likes of Beethoven or Brahms or Rachmaninoff, but that's an extremely high bar. Despite being inferior to the masters of long forms/structures, they're still excellent pieces. His 3rd Sonata is one of my favorite piano pieces.

Also, to be fair, Chopin's repetition is often forced by the ABA form, which is what he uses for all of his etudes and other pieces.

I'm with you except regarding the ABA part, see my response to frodo above ;)

And I do think his pieces are overall excellent, it's just the repetition of material that sometimes get to me. The first Scherzo, Op. 20, is another that comes to mind. I love the material, it's just repeated too many times.

I guess I like and dislike Chopin, too. Lots of his music is beautiful and he gets all sorts of effects out of the instrument. Beautiful in a direct, sensual sort of way. And some of it has an emotional impact beyond simply being beautiful. Still, I just don't get the same complex emotional response to his music as I do to Brahms or late Beethoven, and Chopin often seems to me to be a lot of beautiful surface without so very much inside. I wouldn't take this too far, there's lots of great stuff there, but it just doesn't grab me emotionally as much as the three B's or Schubert.

Interesting take, I feel most of Chopin's music is anything but superficial decoration. That many of his pieces expose many aspects of the most vulnerable depths of the soul. Likewise, I find most of Schubert and Brahms incredibly dull :D I do like a lot of Beethoven though. Fascinating how differently people respond to the same things.

Offline brogers70

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1627
Re: Confession: I both like and don't like Chopin
Reply #7 on: January 30, 2023, 01:04:23 AM
Interesting take, I feel most of Chopin's music is anything but superficial decoration. That many of his pieces expose many aspects of the most vulnerable depths of the soul. Likewise, I find most of Schubert and Brahms incredibly dull :D I do like a lot of Beethoven though. Fascinating how differently people respond to the same things.

Maybe I overstated or didn't state what I meant quite clearly. Certainly, there is lots of emotion in Chopin, and I think you are right that he exposes his feelings very straightforwardly and sincerely and beautifully. I think what attracts me to Beethoven, Brahms, and Schubert is that they are very emotional but not so straightforward about it. In the case of Beethoven it is, I think, because it is not always clear how sincere he is, whether he making fun of himself for his own feelings, embarrassed about them, or expressing them plainly, or simultaneously making fun of them and enjoying them for what they are, and also because of his ability, especially in the late sonatas and quartets to put a lot of very different ideas next to each other that seem unconnected but which somehow hold together emotionally. Brahms, I find interesting because of sense I get that he is often holding back, unwilling to say everything he feels; some of his late piano pieces feel like a dialogue between people who feel deeply but cannot say all that they want to say - it's the tension between what is obviously felt and what he can manage to say that I find interesting. And for Schubert it's the mix of love of life and melody and a kind of lurking, ominous darkness (a great example being that famous bass trill early in the exposition of the last piano sonata). Like I say, though, I do like Chopin, too, he just does not grab me as viscerally as the others.

Offline droprenstein

  • PS Silver Member
  • Jr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 71
Re: Confession: I both like and don't like Chopin
Reply #8 on: January 30, 2023, 04:55:18 AM
I find... Brahms incredibly dull
Careful there!
You are awakening dark forces.

Offline lostinidlewonder

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 7530
Re: Confession: I both like and don't like Chopin
Reply #9 on: January 30, 2023, 06:45:00 AM
Does anyone actually like 100% of any composers works? You can like the educational value of works you might not like the sound of, but if "like" boils down to listening enjoyment then of course no one can write everything that satisfies you all the time.

Maybe if we die and enter a spiritual life where the music beyond anything we have known before, perhaps it is the essence of life and love that glows bright within golden light of a billion stars, no one can help but join in and be a part of the transcendent music. But we only can catch microscopic glimpses of that in the physical world and that even brings us to tears.
"The biggest risk in life is to take no risk at all."
www.pianovision.com

Offline lelle

  • PS Gold Member
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2247
Re: Confession: I both like and don't like Chopin
Reply #10 on: January 30, 2023, 10:54:42 PM
Brahms, I find interesting because of sense I get that he is often holding back, unwilling to say everything he feels; some of his late piano pieces feel like a dialogue between people who feel deeply but cannot say all that they want to say - it's the tension between what is obviously felt and what he can manage to say that I find interesting.

Interesting you say that, because I also get a similar feeling from some of Brahms. It's just that that's why I don't like it :D I like directness and openness. That's probably why I like Beethoven's music, he did not mince words or hold back emotions in what he wrote. A lot of the music I like wears its heart on its sleeve.

Quote
And for Schubert it's the mix of love of life and melody and a kind of lurking, ominous darkness (a great example being that famous bass trill early in the exposition of the last piano sonata).

I do like some of that sonata, and some of his impromptus too. I have liked most of the songs I have heard of him. It's just that sometimes he just goes on and on and on with the same material... :P

Offline mjames

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2555
Re: Confession: I both like and don't like Chopin
Reply #11 on: January 31, 2023, 03:50:15 PM
If you find Brahms dull then you don't know ball music. Simple as. The violin concerto alone is enough to cement his immortality in classical music.

It's normal not to like 100% of an artist's works. The mid-period polonaises (op. 26 to op. 40) are definitely works on the weaker side. I'm a bit of a Chopin fanatic and I'm pretty sure I haven't listened to op. 40 in over half a decade. Though op. 22, op. 44, and op. 61 more than enough makes up for it.

I think Chopin struggled more so with traditional/classical structures than with large scale forms. I think that was a sign of a talent ripe with originality being restrained by tradition; once he abandoned all pretenses to adhering to classical structures and composition is when he truly started to flourish - to the point where he improved on forms (the sonata form with the ballades, the emotional and technical scope of nocturnes, motivic development in his sonatas and ballades). You mention the "quasi-improvisational" trait in his ballades but also take note that he usually spent years working on a single work: he spent 4 years working on the first ballade for example. His ability to meticulously compose works whilst simultaneously making them sound improvised is unrivalled amongst his contemporaries.

Offline lelle

  • PS Gold Member
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2247
Re: Confession: I both like and don't like Chopin
Reply #12 on: February 01, 2023, 09:43:34 PM
If you find Brahms dull then you don't know ball music. Simple as. The violin concerto alone is enough to cement his immortality in classical music.

It's normal not to like 100% of an artist's works. The mid-period polonaises (op. 26 to op. 40) are definitely works on the weaker side. I'm a bit of a Chopin fanatic and I'm pretty sure I haven't listened to op. 40 in over half a decade. Though op. 22, op. 44, and op. 61 more than enough makes up for it.

I think Chopin struggled more so with traditional/classical structures than with large scale forms. I think that was a sign of a talent ripe with originality being restrained by tradition; once he abandoned all pretenses to adhering to classical structures and composition is when he truly started to flourish - to the point where he improved on forms (the sonata form with the ballades, the emotional and technical scope of nocturnes, motivic development in his sonatas and ballades). You mention the "quasi-improvisational" trait in his ballades but also take note that he usually spent years working on a single work: he spent 4 years working on the first ballade for example. His ability to meticulously compose works whilst simultaneously making them sound improvised is unrivalled amongst his contemporaries.

I'm sure there are some Brahms pieces I like ;) But most of them are on the shorter side. I once went to a concert with three of his chamber pieces in a row. Never again.

I think you made a good point with him struggling with traditional structures rather than large forms.

Offline mjames

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2555
Re: Confession: I both like and don't like Chopin
Reply #13 on: February 03, 2023, 06:06:02 PM
I'm sure there are some Brahms pieces I like ;) But most of them are on the shorter side. I once went to a concert with three of his chamber pieces in a row. Never again.

I think you made a good point with him struggling with traditional structures rather than large forms.

I'm in love with Brahms' miniatures, his 3 piano sonatas, his concerti, symphonies, his sets of variations (Handel, Paganini etc) and several of his chamber works. So much gold in there.

But I definitely wouldn't go to a concert dedicated to his chamber music. I like a little bit of variety in my concert going experience lmao.

Offline flyusx

  • PS Silver Member
  • Jr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 50
Re: Confession: I both like and don't like Chopin
Reply #14 on: February 04, 2023, 01:51:19 PM
I must say I do agree. My favourite works would have to be the second and fourth ballades, the Op55№2 nocturne, the first scherzo and the third sonata. Meanwhile, everyone loves the Barcarolle, first nocturne of the Op55 set and the famous Eb nocturne, which doesn't really spark much of my interest.
Currently Working On
Beethoven Sonate №7

Offline lelle

  • PS Gold Member
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2247
Re: Confession: I both like and don't like Chopin
Reply #15 on: February 04, 2023, 11:13:54 PM
I must say I do agree. My favourite works would have to be the second and fourth ballades, the Op55№2 nocturne, the first scherzo and the third sonata. Meanwhile, everyone loves the Barcarolle, first nocturne of the Op55 set and the famous Eb nocturne, which doesn't really spark much of my interest.

I love all of those works except the Barcarolle, third sonata and first scherzo, which I merely like ;) First Scherzo suffers from the repetition problem I was talking about. Could have done with a few less verbatim repeats of the exposition material.

Offline mjames

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2555
Re: Confession: I both like and don't like Chopin
Reply #16 on: February 05, 2023, 02:28:58 AM
I love all of those works except the Barcarolle, third sonata and first scherzo, which I merely like ;) First Scherzo suffers from the repetition problem I was talking about. Could have done with a few less verbatim repeats of the exposition material.

Honestly to me the Barcarolle and third sonata are masterpieces, exceptional works right besides his fourth ballade. Structurally (especially during the first movement), the op. 58 is a marvel; which is why I never really understood the large scale forms criticisms. That first movement is one of the best romantic era examples of expanding and contrasting thematic material - right next to his 4th Ballade and Liszt's own B minor sonata.

I feel like a few of Chopin's works get a little too much hate simply because they're overplayed. For example the op. 9 no. 2 nocturne is brilliantly written and divinely inspired, it's easy to see why it's such a popular work. But it's also to see it lose its charm after hearing it after the 500th time. That's the consequence of mass media/over-accessiblity I guess, it can turn the greatest of human creations into an annoyance simply due to overexposure.

I try my best to not listen to any recordings of Chopin's music anymore, alongside attending recitals with him in the program. Only really hear him when I play him myself. Feels like it does a great job of maintaining the magic of his works.

Offline napede

  • PS Silver Member
  • Newbie
  • ***
  • Posts: 6
Re: Confession: I both like and don't like Chopin
Reply #17 on: February 06, 2023, 06:05:10 PM
Just a couple more thoughts.   :)

Keep in mind that the format of the Military polonaise (for example) is ABA which is repetitive by nature and with the repeats he marks, it is going to be repetitive.  This polonaise is NOT a larger form/structure piece.

Also, look at his piano sonata #3.  The first mvt is in strict sonata allegro form and lasts about 14 minutes when the exposition is repeated.  This is a larger form structure.  This movement is very successful IMO and is not overly repetitive in any way.  In fact, he skips the 1st theme in the recapitulation.

EDIT:
Just reread your original post.  You feel that the Military polonaise sounds corny.  So it appears that this is the problem rather than the repetition?  I feel that Grieg's piano concerto sounds corny in places.  Something in my past must have made me feel that way.  But I am able to "reboot" my brain in a way that I can overcome this and enjoy the concerto.  No problem if you feel this way about that polonaise.  I guess I'm lucky in that I don't feel that way.  I hear rich, massive chords - or as described elsewhere about Arthur Rubinstein's feelings about this piece -

"Its exuberant trills and heroic octaves do indeed evoke the fanfare that might accompany a triumphant army. It’s often observed that this polonaise is unique in Chopin’s oeuvre in that it completely avoids dynamic contrast. Chopin marked his score Allegro con brio, energico and fortissimo; he intended it to be played very loud, very fast, and with great verve, all of which are present in Rubinstein’s stirring performance.was Chopin’s A major “Military” Polonaise.  In the early years of the occupation all of Chopin’s music was officially banned from the airwaves, but this Polonaise nevertheless became a fixture of Polish radio, serving as the “Signal of Warsaw” that began each broadcast.  The A major Polonaise held a special, and deeply personal, meaning for Arthur Rubinstein, whose performance was chosen by the Librarian of Congress for its National Recording Registry as the iconic reading of this revered work. In his memoir, Rubinstein wrote that “speaking of Chopin’s music is for me like confessing my greatest love.” Born in 1887 to a Jewish family in the Polish city of Łodź, which was then still part of the Russian Empire, for Rubinstein hearing Chopin’s music was “like coming home.” In 1939, while vacationing in the French seaside resort of Deauville, he learned in a radio broadcast that his homeland had fallen to the Nazis; what immediately followed the message that Warsaw had been bombed by the German air force. was Chopin’s A major “Military” Polonaise. In the early years of the occupation all of Chopin’s music was officially banned from the airwaves, but this Polonaise nevertheless became a fixture of Polish radio, serving as the “Signal of Warsaw” that began each broadcast."

In my case, I listened to all the Chopin polonaises when I was about 10 years old in a wonderful recording by Alexander Brailowsky recoded around 1964.  I loved ALL of the 6 mature polonaises on the album but did not like nearly as much the 3 op. 71 polonaises on the album that were written when Chopin was about 15-18 years old.

I agree that the Grieg concerto and the Military Polonaise are very dangerous pieces to perform, because it can be easy to be insipid and just hammer away, which can be EXCRUCIATING to the listener.  Schumann's Toccata is another one. For examples of great performances, see Andsnes, Rubinstein and Horowitz, respectfully. For performances that just give me a headache, there are too many mention.  For example, listening to Cziffra murder the Toccata is like a fate worse than death.

Offline napede

  • PS Silver Member
  • Newbie
  • ***
  • Posts: 6
Re: Confession: I both like and don't like Chopin
Reply #18 on: February 06, 2023, 06:07:40 PM
I have a confession to make:

Chopin is probably my favorite composer in terms of having the most pieces I absolutely adore. At the same time, he has many pieces I don't particularly care for.


1) Are there any composers who have not written any pieces you do not particularly care for?
2) Some pieces are not as bad as they tend to be performed, even by great pianists.

Offline lelle

  • PS Gold Member
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2247
Re: Confession: I both like and don't like Chopin
Reply #19 on: February 07, 2023, 02:05:15 PM
1) Are there any composers who have not written any pieces you do not particularly care for?
2) Some pieces are not as bad as they tend to be performed, even by great pianists.

1) No, I don't think so :P this thread is a bit tongue in cheek, created after a practice session where I played the A major polonaise and felt annoyed with all the repetition :D

2) I certainly agree with that. There are many underrated pieces that are surprisingly good when played properly, and horribly dull and/or disjointed when not played properly.

Offline bwl_13

  • PS Silver Member
  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 239
Re: Confession: I both like and don't like Chopin
Reply #20 on: February 08, 2023, 02:23:57 AM
I think some of what you have to say is very subjective and entirely valid, but I disagree about Chopin and his longer forms.

I have a hard time believing there are many, if any, longer form works that can manage to keep you captive without having a tight structure, even if it feels loose or improvised. While I wouldn't call the ballades 'long' pieces, they are some of the most interesting pieces to me from a perspective of form. The third 'losing' the first subject until it returns at the end in a very triumphant way, the first with it's insistent repetition of that famous wandering theme, being interrupted by one of the most inspired melodies of the 19th century (although the context changes and thus it works narratively), and of course the fourth has been talked about many times. Hell, even the second works, since the narrative seems to be pastoral and inherently simple, so the straight forward structure almost reminds me of reading a folk story which isn't overly complicated, but interesting nonetheless.

In many ways, I think Chopin really adored simplicity, but was a very detailed and careful composer. I always find the interest in his pieces in those details, the placement of particular notes and the delicacy of his writing. I don't think he particularly wanted to write long epic pieces, which is apparent from his lack of writing for orchestra. He stays in the realms of the piano and manages to write masterfully for it.
Second Year Undergrad:
Bach BWV 914
Beethoven Op. 58
Reger Op. 24 No. 5
Rachmaninoff Op. 39 No. 3 & No. 5

Offline mrcreosote

  • PS Silver Member
  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 229
Re: Confession: I both like and don't like Chopin
Reply #21 on: February 19, 2023, 08:53:50 AM
Corny struck a nerve with me:  I think "syrupy" of the "soft gooey center" he invariably feels compelled to insert into works where he has achieved monumental drama and emotion.  It's like "time to take a picnic" in the midst.    EXAMPLES:  Heroic, #1 Ballade, and Mazurka in B minor op33 #4 which I love to death.  These pieces are the finest examples of C that put me on an emotional journey from my life experience as I "play" them (Passions, Loss and Courtship respectively), and in in each of these, the emotional weight is smashed to bits with these dainty, frivolous digressions - was C experimenting with decompression? - perhaps Drama, Decompression, Fireworks?

Since I play for fun, I edit the pieces to remove these interludes or frankly, anything I don't like or think is boring.  And this works (!) a cousin complimented me that I only play "the good part" of Claire de Lune.  Beethoven Variations (?) the 2 Gould plays. 
For more information about this topic, click search below!
 

Logo light pianostreet.com - the website for classical pianists, piano teachers, students and piano music enthusiasts.

Subscribe for unlimited access

Sign up

Follow us

Piano Street Digicert