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#507284 - 07/13/02 11:03 AM Chopin Mazurkas
aznxk3vi17 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/13/02
Posts: 701
Loc: Johns Hopkins University
Does anybody else believe that Chopin's Mazurkas are some of the most beautiful things he has ever written? I just started looking through my Mazurkas book again, and I'm absolutely stunned by the beauty and sometimes simplicity of the pieces.

Some I particularly like are thus:

A minor, Op. 17 no. 4: I remember in the movie Empire of the Sun that the child's mother always used to play this mazurka, specifically the middle section. The middle section pops out of almost nowhere, and it's so beautiful in contrast to the heavily burdened outer sections.

Ab Op. 24 no. 3: I love this also for its simplicity. The short phrases and dramatic fermatas always give me a smile. The ending is also one of the most original endings to any piece written by Chopin, in my opinion.

Db Op. 30 no. 3: Great rhythm, and the alternation between minor and major, finally ending on major is very playful.

D Op. 33 no. 2: Simply marvelous as a mazurka, playful melody, great harmonies, and I simply love the ending. Pure genius.

Ab Op. 59 no. 2: Such a charming melody, and when the left hand takes it in the tenor range, it is a very great thing indeed.

Does anybody else share my complete enthrallment with the mazurkas?

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#507285 - 07/13/02 01:54 PM Re: Chopin Mazurkas
Tyulan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/08/02
Posts: 24
Loc: UK
Seeing as Chopin's favoured composition (at least, in terms of how many he wrote) was the Mazurka, it is interesting to witness the development of his pianistic writing throughout the entire set.

I too am enthralled by them, but recently they seem to have been neglected by a lot of pianists and have unfortunately been pushed onto the back burner in favour of the oft-played Barcarolle (which I must admit does not strike me as Chopin's most profound composition, not at all) and the Etudes.

I do not have specific favourites, as I like to listen to them all in one go whenever I do as one vast recital - it does go on for a while, but it is well worth it in the end (curiously enough, this is the only bulk of music I don't mind sitting through without a substantial break).

However, I have found it interesting to look at Mazurkas by other composers, along with compositions such as Polonaises etc. For instance, Bach wrote some Polonaises and they are truly great, but not in the same league as Chopin's which completely dominate the genre both pianistically and spiritually.

Anyway: I hope you continue to enjoy the Mazurkas!

Nath

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#507286 - 07/13/02 03:50 PM Re: Chopin Mazurkas
johnmoonlight Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/11/02
Posts: 2384
Loc: Lancaster, pa
I love the Mazurkas as well. If you want the best Chopin Mazurka experience(kinda like a double shot of espresso \:\) ) listen to Horowitz' playing op 7 no. 3 (i don't remember the exact recording, but i know it was during his later years) I compared it to Ashkenazy playing the same piece and in my opinion Horowitz wins by a landslide!
_________________________
While one who sings with his tongue on fire
Gargles in the rat race choir
Bent out of shape from society's pliers
Cares not to come up any higher
But rather get you down in the hole
That he's in.

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#507287 - 07/13/02 04:05 PM Re: Chopin Mazurkas
jgoo Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/23/01
Posts: 3974
Loc: Seattle, Washington, USA
Don't get me wrong here, because I do like the Mazurka's, but I just never really got as into them as I did others (with the exception of most of the waltz's). I favor Chopin above all other composers, and anyone whos been here on the forum for a while knows that. IMO, one of the most beautiful if not the most beautiful piece of music to have ever come from Chopin is his Polonaise op.26 no.1 in C-Sharp Minor.
_________________________
For off-topic discussion, please feel free to visit www.coffee-room.com

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#507288 - 07/13/02 04:16 PM Re: Chopin Mazurkas
shantinik Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/23/01
Posts: 4271
Loc: Olympia, WA
My fave is Opus 33 No. 4, played by Michelangeli!

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#507289 - 07/13/02 04:27 PM Re: Chopin Mazurkas
aznxk3vi17 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/13/02
Posts: 701
Loc: Johns Hopkins University
Tyulan: While I agree with you that the mazurkas were pushed back in favor of others, I don't quite agree with you on the Barcarolle. I believe it is one of his most spiritual and awe-inspiring pieces he ever wrote. I'm curious to see, what are your opinions on his best pieces? Are they the mazurkas as might be indicated? Remember that the Barcarolle came quite late in his life, making it one of his most mature piano pieces. You must admit, his later pieces are much more developed and mature than his early ones, although all of his pieces are worth mention.

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#507290 - 07/13/02 04:37 PM Re: Chopin Mazurkas
Brendan Online   content



Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 5331
Loc: McAllen, TX
I feel that there is sometimes less depth than there is attributed to them. Several of the ones that you have mentioned (namely a minor and D major) I do feel are little masterpieces in terms of their musical content alone, but mostly I feel that they have just as much worth as Schumann's and Liszt's smaller character pieces - rarely anything more or less.
_________________________
http://www.BrendanKinsella.com

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#507291 - 07/13/02 05:07 PM Re: Chopin Mazurkas
Tyulan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/08/02
Posts: 24
Loc: UK
 Quote:
Originally posted by aznxk3vi17:
Tyulan: While I agree with you that the mazurkas were pushed back in favor of others, I don't quite agree with you on the Barcarolle. I believe it is one of his most spiritual and awe-inspiring pieces he ever wrote. I'm curious to see, what are your opinions on his best pieces? Are they the mazurkas as might be indicated? Remember that the Barcarolle came quite late in his life, making it one of his most mature piano pieces. You must admit, his later pieces are much more developed and mature than his early ones, although all of his pieces are worth mention.[/b]
I suppose my comment was a little hasty - the Barcarolle is profound, for sure. As you have said it was written late in life, and along with the Polonaise-Fantaisie and the 3rd Piano Sonata ranks as one of his most mature compositions. However, critics tend to elevate it to a position so lofty and so unattainable in comparison to, say, the Waltzes or Nocturnes that it seems outlandishly brilliant against Chopin's particular gifts.

There is so much to be gleaned from Chopin's music: so much pleasure, and so much profundity that it seems odd that so many critics seem bound by the Barcarolle's brilliance. I do not see how it can transcend the lyricism of some of the Etudes or the sheer naive expertise of the Preludes (naive in that so wide-ranging and eclectic a set actually works). But it is a personal opinion obviously: ultimately one cannot fault the work individually as it is perfect compositionally and says exactly what Chopin must have been striving for all his life...it is a piece of 'pure' music.

My favourite piece of Chopin happens to be the Allegro de concert, as it seems to encapsulate once again everything Chopin is particularly famous for (poeticism, to use a well-worn word, and flamboyance in appropriate measure) against sheer beauty of individualism. And so lovely a key: A major, what a good choice! I've never tried to learn it, though I have played through the odd bit here and there.

Have you heard the Fugue he wrote? I feel it's very good, obviously, but is not quite in the same league as his posthumous mentor (i.e. Bach) as it somehow drifts away from that Baroque school of pure, almost clinical musicality and into something terribly Romantic, which is no bad thing in itself. Though I do wish sometimes Chopin had not strayed so far from his Bach-orientated roots such as is evident in the first movement of the first Piano Sonata or the Rondos.

Anyway: what's your opinion aznxk3vi17 on Rachmaninov's Chopin Variations?

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#507292 - 07/13/02 06:35 PM Re: Chopin Mazurkas
Palindrome Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/22/01
Posts: 3916
Loc: Chicago, IL USA
There's a story about the time Chopin visited Meyerbeer and played some mazurkas for him. They got into an argument as to whether the pieces were in triple or duple meter, with Meyerbeer shouting "one-two-one-two" (presumably in French) and Chopin shouting back "one-two-three" alongside the music. I've never been able to hear what there is in the music that so confused Meyebeer. Can anyone enlighten me?

Related joke:

I believe it was von Bülow that said: "Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, les autres sont cretins." Some wit then responded: "Mendelssohn, Meyerbeer, Moskowski, les autres sont Chrétiens." Forgive my inadequate French.
_________________________
There is no end of learning. -Robert Schumann Rules for Young Musicians

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#507293 - 07/13/02 07:28 PM Re: Chopin Mazurkas
johnmoonlight Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/11/02
Posts: 2384
Loc: Lancaster, pa
i agree with Brendan regarding the Mazurkas not being as deep; the best way for me to explain it is that after a long day at work, listening to Beethoven blaring in my office(sometimes my staff want to kill me! \:\) ) the perfect music is Chopin's Mazurkas or Nocturnes. --no thinking involved, just a cold beer and not-so-deep but wonderfully beautiful music. the beer of course has to be Sam Adams!
_________________________
While one who sings with his tongue on fire
Gargles in the rat race choir
Bent out of shape from society's pliers
Cares not to come up any higher
But rather get you down in the hole
That he's in.

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#507294 - 07/13/02 11:50 PM Re: Chopin Mazurkas
aznxk3vi17 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/13/02
Posts: 701
Loc: Johns Hopkins University
Haha, in that story with Meyerbeer, Chopin reportedly slurred the third beat, so that it SLIGHTLY RESEMBLED a 2/4 time signature, but the third beat was no doubt there. A witness was frightened, as he never saw Chopin lose his temper, and there he did, and he actually YELLED at Meyerbeer. I'm sure he was insulted... Meyerbeer basically was telling Chopin he didn't know his own folk music well enough to write it correctly. Meyerbeer was quite stubborn, Chopin played it OVER and OVER again, stamping his foot and yelling "un-deux-troix" (presumably he was speaking French). He wouldn't budge. So, Chopin I believe left. Quite an episode.

Ah, I have an interesting story to tell about von Bulow: one time he was conducting the Beethoven 9th symphony I believe, and the tympanist was having trouble with the tympani solo. He stated:

"What is your instrument called?"

"Tympani."

"There you have it. TYM-pa-NI, TYM-pa-NI!"

The drummer immediately grasped the rhythm, and triumphantly smacked the drum as loudly as possible.

"Forte!"

The drummer puts more force into it.

"FORTE!!"

The drummer nearly bursts the vellum.

"FORTE!!!!!! Not fortissimo!"

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#507295 - 07/13/02 11:51 PM Re: Chopin Mazurkas
aznxk3vi17 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/13/02
Posts: 701
Loc: Johns Hopkins University
Heh, by the way, if you want to hear any anecdotes about your favorite composer, ask away, I have a whole BOOK of them! \:D

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#507296 - 07/15/02 05:20 PM Re: Chopin Mazurkas
StanSteel Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 646
Loc: Los Angeles
Do you have anecdotes about Prokofiev?
_________________________
"War does not determine who is right; only who is left."

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#507297 - 07/15/02 05:37 PM Re: Chopin Mazurkas
aznxk3vi17 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/13/02
Posts: 701
Loc: Johns Hopkins University
I'll start a new thread on these. Check it out!

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#507298 - 07/15/02 06:12 PM Re: Chopin Mazurkas
Rick Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/01/01
Posts: 559
Loc: Chicago
Yes, I share your "complete enthrallment" with the mazurkas. I think they are, almost without exception, fantastic; and different from almost anything else out there. So many of them are so wonderful! At one point a few months ago, I found myself only wanting to learn mazurkas. To break out of that, I had to quit playing them entirely. I'm sure I'll get back to them, but now I'm hooked on Beethoven. It's always somethin'.

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