St Petersburg, Concert Hall

January's Artist of the Month
Alexei Volodin recital


The programme includes works by Frédéric Chopin

Part I
Four Impromptu
 Part II
Three Mazurkas op. 59:
  Impromptu No. 1 in A-flat major, op. 29
Impromptu No. 2 in F-sharp major, op. 36
Impromptu No. 3 in G-flat major, op. 51
Fantaisie-Impromptu in C-sharp minor, op. 66 (posth.)
    Mazurka No. 1 in A minor
Mazurka No. 2 in A-flat major
Mazurka No. 3 in F-sharp minor
Barcarolle in F-sharp major, op. 60
Polonaise-Fantaisie in A-flat major, op. 61
  Sonata No. 3 in B minor, op. 58
    

 

"At 4 o'clock a remarkable man visited us - Monsieur Chopin. He gave Marie her first lesson. His appearance was of little interest. Short, thin, blond, with grey, quite large and slightly inflamed eyes, a large nose, and a small mouth with a suffering expression - he must be a very nervous character. When Marie, who was learning a new piece, played a wrong note, he groaned... Chopin is extraordinarily pleasant as a teacher - he explained each note with unusual care and was surprisingly benevolent...I can't wait to hear him play his own compositions". That is how the young Russian Countess Yelizaveta Sheremetyeva, who was lucky enough to take several lessons from Chopin in Paris, described her impressions of the celebrated composer's personality. Unlike his contemporary, the no less celebrated pianist Ferenc Liszt, who captivated his audience by the energy and stunning brilliance of his performance, Frederic Chopin attracted people with his versatile and easily recognisable tunes, his subtle psychology and colossal inner dramaticism. Few composers were capable of conveying in their music such delicate shades and such a wide range of emotions. With very few exceptions, almost all Chopin's works were written for the piano - the instrument to which the composer confided the innermost secrets of his soul. Not for nothing was he dubbed by many of his contemporaries "the poet of the piano".
Frederic Chopin composed in virtually all the romantic piano genres, some of which joined the ranks of the classics and became popular on his account. He frequently turned to the traditional dances of his native Poland, the most popular of which were, of course, the Polonaise and the Mazurka.
The Polonaise (which actually means "Polish") is a ceremonial dance-procession in 3/4 time and a characteristic springy rhythm, with the accent on the first beat. The Polonaise, which originated in Poland in about the 15th century as a wedding dance, came to be the symbol of any ceremonial event and, as a rule, was performed at the beginning of balls and celebrations.
The Mazurka, whose name comes from the Mazurs, the residents of Mazovia, where the dance originated, is usually livelier than the Polonaise and not as pompous. For Chopin both dances became vehicles for his own lyrical reflections and conceptions, sometimes rather fantasies based on the traditional dances, with inner dramaticism and introspection. The Polonaise-Fantasy in A Flat Major (Op.61) and the three mazurkas (Op.59) belong to this type of original reinterpretation of folk dances, but they also relate to the composer's later period and, along with the Barcarolle in F Sharp Major, can be considered together with one of Chopin's most tragic compositions, his Third Sonata.
The Third Sonata in B Minor (Op.58) was written in 1844, almost immediately after the composer received the news of his father's death. The sonata is in four movements, which are closely linked in dramatic and thematic terms. The central part of the work, as in the earlier 2nd Sonata in B Flat Minor, is the Largo third movement. After the menacing introduction, which seems to portray the inevitability of fate, against the background of the measured tread of descending bass notes and repeated chords a beautiful melody is heard, in which great sorrow blends with lucid conciliation. The sonata's impetuous, stormy finale is the raging maelstrom of life, swallowing up and crushing man's hopes and aspirations.
Yegor Kovalevsky

Age category 6+

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