R SCHUMANN Kreisleriana Op.16 (32′)
STOCKHAUSEN Klavierstück VII (7’)
CHOPIN Two Nocturnes Op.27 (12’)
CHOPIN Three Mazurkas Op.59 (11’)
CHOPIN Sonata No.3 in B minor Op.58 (26’)
Tim Horton continues his exploration into the music of one of the greatest composers for piano, Frédéric Chopin. Few musicians have had an influence on other composers quite like Chopin, and Tim has selected a sequence of some of his most beautiful music to illustrate this. Robert Schumann’s music is of intense passion that leaps without warning from tender to wild melodies, while Karlheinz Stockhausen’s approach to the piano was to find an entirely new world of sound, creating fascinating spine-tingling sonorities.
Please note the change to the previously advertised programme for this concert.
We apologise for any disappointment this may cause.
CHOPIN Frédéric, Two Nocturnes Op.27
Chopin completed the pair of Nocturnes Op.27 in 1836 and they were dedicated to Countess Thérèse d’Apponyi, wife of the Austrian ambassador in Paris. In the rather desolate first nocturne, in C sharp minor, the Chopin scholar Arthur Hedley detected hesitation and anxiety, and a mood of night-time and mystery. Its companion piece, in D flat major, serves as a complete contrast, bringing light where there had been darkness. The opening melody – described by Hugo Leichentritt as ‘achingly beautiful’ – unfolds over a gently undulating accompaniment. Listening to this magnificent pair of pieces, it is no surprise that Schumann welcomed Chopin’s nocturnes as heralds of a new age in piano composition.
© Nigel Simeone
CHOPIN Frédéric, Three Mazurkas Op.59
Chopin’s mazurkas, inspired by the folk dances of his homeland, are often where he was at his most experimental, particularly with harmonies. The three Mazurkas Op.59 were composed in 1845. The first, in A minor, contains daring modulations, the second (dedicated to Mendelssohn’s wife, Cécile) is richly melodic (the main theme subtly varied and decorated as the piece progresses), while the third presents a rather brittle angular melody, often supported by chromatic harmonies.
© Nigel Simeone
CHOPIN Frédéric, Sonata No.3 in B minor Op.58
Chopin developed many new forms of piano music, from the kind of audacious miniatures found among the mazurkas to extended single-movement works such as the ballades and scherzos. But he also wrote three piano sonatas, drawing on structures inherited from Mozart and Beethoven. The Piano Sonata No.3, Op. 58, was completed in 1844 and its first movement is in sonata form. Even so, the music seems closer to the world of Chopin’s ballades than to any classical models, particularly in the rhapsodic development section. The outer sections of the Scherzo are filled with rapid movement, the ideas delicate and airy, while the slow Trio is richly harmonised but never loses its hints of unease. After a declamatory opening, the slow movement – a Chopin nocturne in all but name – is dominated by the song-like melody heard near the start, the mood changing for a dream-like central section before returning to the opening idea. The finale has a seemingly unstoppable momentum and energy, and for Marceli Antoni Szulc, Chopin’s first Polish biographer, this movement evoked images of the Cossack Mazeppa on a galloping horse.
© Nigel Simeone
SCHUMANN Robert, Kreisleriana Op.16
Writing to a Belgian friend in 1839, Schumann wrote that of all his piano pieces, ‘I love Kreisleriana the most’, though he went on to admit that ‘only Germans will understand the title.’ In the same letter, he explained that ‘Kreisler was created by E.T.A. Hoffmann, an eccentric, wild and ingenious musician. There are many things about him you will like.’ The volatile mood-swings of Kreisleriana and the almost improvised feeling of some pieces are brilliantly imaginative musical evocations of the fictitious Kreisler’s personality. By turns passionate, intimate, capricious, dream-like and dramatic, Schumann wrote the pieces for Clara Wieck (whom he was to marry in 1840). Schumann told her that in Kreisleriana ‘you will play the main role, and I wish to dedicate it to you. You will smile so sweetly when you recognize yourself in them.’ Ultimately, the dedication was changed (Clara was afraid that accepting it would risk worsening the strained relations with her father), and the first edition, published in 1838, had an inscription from Schumann ‘to his friend F. Chopin’. Although Chopin’s reaction to the work was lukewarm, the following year he reciprocated by dedicating his Second Ballade to Schumann.
STOCKHAUSEN Karlheinz, Klavierstück VII
Karlheinz Stockhausen began his series of Klavierstücke in 1952 while he was studying with Olivier Messiaen at the Paris Conservatoire. Klavierstück VII was composed in 1954 (a year after he left Paris) and extensively revised in 1955. One of the most remarkable features of the piece is the use of silently depressed keys allowing sympathetic vibrations to be set up. The result is that different sonorities are created by the same pitch – a technique that can be heard throughout the work.
© Nigel Simeone