The Blumental Collection, Volume 2

/, Felicja Blumental/The Blumental Collection, Volume 2

The Blumental Collection, Volume 2

£9.99

These recordings of Chopin’s Mazurkas, Noctures and Polonaises show Ms. Blumental further exploring the music of her homeland while demonstrating her love and affinity for the music and dance forms that inspired Chopin.

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Description

“This is Chopin playing of the highest order…..these performances positively fizz with character, wit and vitality. Felicja Blumental is at least as convincing as (and perhaps stylistically closest to) Rubinstein’s last set on RCA” MusicWeb.

These recordings of Chopin’s Mazurkas, Noctures and Polonaises show Ms. Blumental further exploring the music of her homeland while demonstrating her love and affinity for the music and dance forms that inspired Chopin.

Fryderyk Chopin – Mazurkas, Nocturnes and Polonaises

Felicja Blumental – piano

Mazurkas:

  • Mazurka in F sharp minor, Op. 6, No. 1 (2’30)
  • Mazurka F minor, Op. 7, No. 3 (2’16)
  • Mazurka in C sharp minor, Op. 30, No. 4 (3’54)
  • Mazurka in D major, Op. 33, No. 2 (2’31)
  • Mazurka in E minor, Op. 41, No. 2 (1’58)
  • Mazurka in F minor, Op. 63, No. 2 (1’48)
  • Mazurka in C sharp minor Op. 63, No. 3 (1’46)
  • Mazurka in A minor (posth.) Notre temps No. 2 (4’09)

Nocturnes:

  • Nocturne in B flat minor, Op. 9, No. 1 (6’08)
  • Nocturne in F major, Op. 15, No. 1 (4’07)
  • Nocturne in B major, Op. 32, No. 1 (4’13)
  • Nocturne in G minor, Op. 37, No. 1 (6’49)
  • Nocturne in E minor, Op. 72, No. 1 (posth.) (4’03)

Polonaises:

  • Polonaise in C sharp minor, Op. 26, No. 1 (7’43)
  • Polonaise in E flat minor, Op. 26, No. 2 (8’47)
  • Polonaise in C minor, Op. 40, No. 2 (7’05)
  • Polonaise in A flat major, Op. 53 (Heroic) (6’15)

Total running time (76’04)

Chopin: Mazurkas

The mazurka is in fact both a French title and a translation of Poland’s native dance called a Mazurk. It is in triple time, either 3/8 or 3/4, (Chopin’s mazurkas were written in the latter) and often used church modes as a source of harmony. The original folk mazurka is a combination of three dances, but is flexible to allow an improvisational section for new parts. For many of his compositions, Chopin turned to Polish folk music for inspiration. One of his favoured (and specialised) techniques is rubato and here it is ideal to convey the feeling of improvisation. Dotted rhythms and irregular accents are also characteristic of mazurkas and Chopin wrote with this particularly in mind. He combined these traditions with major and minor modes and extended this common dance to become a higher musical form and at the same time, captured the true spirit of the Mazurk. Chopin composed over 50 throughout his lifetime.

Both Mazurka in F sharp minor, Op. 6, No. 1 and Mazurka in F minor, Op. 7, No. 3 were composed between 1830-1831. Like all his other masterpieces, Chopin dedicated these pieces to friends and colleagues. The first Mazurka (Op. 6, No. 1) was dedicated to Mademoiselle La Comtesse Pauline Plater and his Op. 7 Mazurkas, to Monsieur Johns de la Nouvelle Orléans.

Mazurka in C sharp minor, Op. 3, No. 4 is one of four composed between 1836-37 and dedicated to Madame La Princess of Würtemberg (born Princess Czartoryska). This has a stately dance feel with two harmonised melodic lines written for the right hand. Similarly grandiose is Mazurka in E minor, Op. 41, No. 2 composed at around 1838-39 and dedicated to his friend, Etienne Witwicki. Short sequenced phrases that end on a ‘turn’ give this mazurka a particularly Polish feel.

Mazurka in D major, Op. 33, No. 2 is one of four dedicated to Mademoiselle Rose Mostowska composed between 1837-38 and is a light playful dance which has a sparkling finale passage.

The Mazurkas, Op. 63 were composed in 1846 and dedicated to Madame la Comtesse Laure Czosnowska. No. 2 features some surprising twists in the melody and the coda of No. 3 has interesting downward flourishes with echoing motifs.

Mazurka in A minor, Op. 68, No. 2 is dated 1827 and is one of Chopin’s earliest works in this genre. It was composed a year after he entered the Warsaw Conservatory, which was before he had experienced any real success as a composer or concert pianist.

Mazurka in A minor (Posth.) is dated around 1841 is another of Chopin’s more regal works. It is highly ornamented so seems especially fitting for the salons of French high society in which he spent much of his leisure time.

Chopin: Nocturnes

A ‘Nocturne’ usually means an evening song that is soft in character, but Chopin developed this genre to incorporate a variety of moods with a more poetic and expressive nature, while adopting an A-B-A form. Section ‘A’ usually consisted of a dreamy bel-canto style and section ‘B,’ a more dramatic passage (a particular example of this is Op. 15, No 1).

Chopin’s Nocturnes, Op. 9 were the first of his works to be published in France, Germany and England. They were largely composed in Vienna, but completed in Paris between 1830 and 1832. Nocturne in B flat minor, Op. 9, No. 1 is dedicated to pianist, Madame Camille Pleyel. In this work, Chopin experiments with close chromatic harmonies.

Nocturne in F major, Op. 15, No. 1 (Andante Cantabile) was composed around 1830-31 and is dedicated to Ferdinand Hiller. This Nocturne distinctly illustrates Chopin’s talent of incorporating different moods with a startling middle section of a dark and stormy nature.

Nocturne in G minor, Op. 37, No. 1 (Andante sostenuto) is also known as “Les Soupirs” (The Sighs) and was composed around 1838-39. It is less ornamented and chromatic than Chopin’s other works, so is therefore less technically challenging for the pianist.

Nocturne in E minor, Op. 72, No. 1 (Andante) is one of Chopin’s earlier nocturnes, composed in 1827 and dedicated to R. de Konneritz. The simple and dreamy melody accompanied by broken chords is characteristic of Irish composer/pianist, John Field who published his first three Nocturnes in 1814.

Chopin: Polonaises

Here Chopin again turns to another dance form of his native land, Poland and takes its title from the peasant processional dances, Polski. As with the mazurka, it is in triple time, although Chopin adopts slower tempos and a more majestic quality. Chopin composed polonaises and waltzes throughout his lifetime. His first polonaise was composed at the age of seven (Polonaise in G minor) and the last was Polonaise-Fantasie in A flat major, Op. 61 dated 1846. He applied many ideas to his polonaises, extending the boundaries of the ‘A-B-A’ form. He composed introductions, experimented with codas and polyphonic textures and developed themes and bridges.

Like his Mazurkas, the Polonaises inspire a certain respect for the Polish spirit while demanding an accomplished piano technique. The interpretation and in particular, understanding of these two dances are key to a true performance of Chopin’s works. Here Felicja Blumental has the benefit of her Polish background to accompany her technical agility and artistic intuition.

Chopin’s two polonaises (dedicated to J. Dessauer) were written between 1832 and 1835. Polonaise in C sharp minor, Op. 26, No. 1 opens dramatically and then develops into a poignant theme. Chopin opts for a stately and solemn opening to No. 2 in E flat minor followed by an interesting motif in unison. However there are virtuosic passages here in which the pianist can demonstrate his or her dexterity.

Musicologists have long struggled to date Chopin’s piano compositions accurately. He composed so frequently and continuously in different genres throughout his life that familiar pieces may have been composed and altered over a period of years. All his piano pieces convey a variety of moods and Chopin’s Polonaise Op. 40, No. 2 (dated around 1838-39 and dedicated to Jules Fontana) evokes a darker emotion. Listen out for the haunting melody in the bass line.

Chopin composed his Polonaise No. 6 in A flat major, Op. 53 around 1842. It is also called the ‘heroic,’ which is appropriate as it is said to have been the piece of music played on the Warsaw streets by loudspeaker, when the city was liberated at the end of Second World War.