Thoughts on Fantasie impromptu - Chopin

Posted by: Beethoven747-400

Thoughts on Fantasie impromptu - Chopin - 01/27/13 05:14 AM

I have no doubt that many people would find the impromptu irritating, or annoying probably because it's overplayed, or - a very common ring tone. ha

However, I find the piece more than this. I've wanted to play the piece ever since I started to take piano lessons, and I could never imagine myself being good enough. I wanted to learn it because of the sheer difficulty , and the bravura quality it presents. Now, it seems to speak so much more than that.

Sure the word impromptu means improvisation, and for that reason the work shouldn't be taken too seriously. However I feel it is a very elaborate improvisation... if that makes sense.

It's also well known Chopin himself didn't care for the work, asking it to be left unpublished, due to it's reminiscence with the Moonlight movement 3 (?)

I just wondered if anyone else feels the work has something to say. I would describe it as, pleading, or begging... Silly huh.
Posted by: dolce sfogato

Re: Thoughts on Fantasie impromptu - Chopin - 01/27/13 05:42 AM

Moscheles wrote a very similar piece (Impromptu op.89), before..., so Chopin would have thought "what you can do, I can do better", and that's very much the case, however, the plagiarism is too obvious, and he knew...
Posted by: -Frycek

Re: Thoughts on Fantasie impromptu - Chopin - 01/27/13 05:50 AM

There's evidence, a complete and playable (fair copy) of the manuscript of the piece that was found in private hands, that Chopin had written the piece as a private commission for one particular patron, Mme la Baronne d'Est. As such it would no longer have been his to publish. There is no evidence that Chopin disliked the piece. This is an assumption based on the fact that his copy of the manuscript was in with the unfinished or unpolished works and fragments that he wished to have destroyed at his death. Chopin never mentioned it at all which was not the least bit unusual for him.
Posted by: btb

Re: Thoughts on Fantasie impromptu - Chopin - 01/27/13 06:31 AM

We know that Australia can’t play cricket ...
presently ranked 7th in the 20/20 stakes ...
but the cobber from Perth could be crashing his 747 on a sticky wicket by saying of the Chopin Fantaisie Impromptu Opus 66 in C# minor...

“Sure the word impromptu means improvisation,
and for that reason the work shouldn't be taken too seriously.”

Thank goodness his friend Julian Fontana (to whom dedicated) had the work published ... otherwise we might never have heard the popular song “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows” by Harold Arlen/Harry Carroll and sung by the redoubtable Judy Garland ... good old Shopping!

Most of us colonials play the masterpiece with a pretty straight bat ... (meaning we take it seriously) ... there appears to be no truth to the theory that Chopin didn’t like the work ... and packed it away amongst the cobwebs ... thanks Frycek for your support of this line of thought.

I’d like a tiny payout on the royalties Harry Carroll raked in on his smash hit “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows” ... some guys have all the loot!

Posted by: Gerard12

Re: Thoughts on Fantasie impromptu - Chopin - 01/28/13 08:08 AM

It's probably one of the most-played pieces in my rep, if only for popularity reasons - and the fact that many younger students can't wait to get their hands on the thing.

I've stopped idealistically wishing that people would display the same kind of enthusiasm for, say, the 3rd impromptu (or a myriad of other pieces).

I've never thought of it as inferior - a label that's seems placed because of the piece's relative accessibility to a wide public.
Posted by: ando

Re: Thoughts on Fantasie impromptu - Chopin - 01/28/13 08:47 AM

Originally Posted By: Gerard12
It's probably one of the most-played pieces in my rep, if only for popularity reasons - and the fact that many younger students can't wait to get their hands on the thing.

I've stopped idealistically wishing that people would display the same kind of enthusiasm for, say, the 3rd impromptu (or a myriad of other pieces).

I've never thought of it as inferior - a label that's seems placed because of the piece's relative accessibility to a wide public.


I agree. I don't understand all the condescension and claims that "it's not real Chopin." etc. It encapsulates quite a lot about Chopin in an accessible way. It is a perfectly respectable intermediate level piece and need not be sneered at. That is an insult to the many people who like it.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Thoughts on Fantasie impromptu - Chopin - 01/28/13 10:06 AM

Originally Posted By: Beethoven747-400
I have no doubt that many people would find the impromptu irritating, or annoying probably because it's overplayed, or - a very common ring tone.
It's only (perhaps)overplayed by amateurs, but unless one goes to a lot of amateur recitals this isn't relevant. The piece is actually a relative rarity in professional recitals, perhaps because some feel it is not quite on the level of Chopin's greater works.
Posted by: pianoPupil

Re: Thoughts on Fantasie impromptu - Chopin - 01/28/13 07:31 PM

When I hear the accents right after the intro, I always get the feeling of something grave and incessant. Hammering, laborious, even primeval. The impromptu calls to me. This is one of the pieces that keep the green feeling of piano for me.
Posted by: BruceD

Re: Thoughts on Fantasie impromptu - Chopin - 01/28/13 07:56 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoPupil
When I hear the accents right after the intro, I always get the feeling of something grave and incessant. Hammering, laborious, even primeval. The impromptu calls to me. This is one of the pieces that keep the green feeling of piano for me.


"accents after the intro"? What accents? What intro?

"Hammering, laborious ... primeval"?

Are we thinking about the same work?!?
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Thoughts on Fantasie impromptu - Chopin - 01/28/13 07:59 PM

I actually find it a rather awkward piece; the transitions from section to section sound forced. Its form is inferior to Chopin's other three impromptus in my opinion. I can see why he didn't want it published.
Posted by: pianoPupil

Re: Thoughts on Fantasie impromptu - Chopin - 01/28/13 09:47 PM

Originally Posted By: BruceD
Originally Posted By: pianoPupil
When I hear the accents right after the intro, I always get the feeling of something grave and incessant. Hammering, laborious, even primeval. The impromptu calls to me. This is one of the pieces that keep the green feeling of piano for me.


"accents after the intro"? What accents? What intro?

"Hammering, laborious ... primeval"?

Are we thinking about the same work?!?



Thats funny. I guess that there are no specific names for the parts of the fantasie impromptu, but I name them based on how I feel the piece progresses. After the fluttering notes of the beginning, the first Forte marking is in the same place that every first semiquaver in a group of four begins to receive an accent. This is the end of the intro, and where, for me, the hammering begins. Such a hammering sound strikes me in the way I described above. Have you heard it played by Tzvi Erez?

if not:
Youtube - Fantasie Impromptu
Posted by: ChopinAddict

Re: Thoughts on Fantasie impromptu - Chopin - 01/28/13 10:09 PM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
I actually find it a rather awkward piece; the transitions from section to section sound forced. Its form is inferior to Chopin's other three impromptus in my opinion. I can see why he didn't want it published.


I don't know if I could call it "awkward", but it has never been one of my favourite pieces by our friend. I don't really feel the joy or sorrow I feel when I listen to his other pieces and well, I think I could say it just doesn't impress me as much as the rest, that's all. frown
Posted by: ju5t1n-h

Re: Thoughts on Fantasie impromptu - Chopin - 01/29/13 01:33 PM

Watch this - Give the history of the piece, I learnt a lot by watching this that I didn't previously know... maybe it will clear up some thoughts for yourself

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9kKJewslsk
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Thoughts on Fantasie impromptu - Chopin - 01/29/13 02:43 PM

Originally Posted By: ju5t1n-h
Watch this - Give the history of the piece, I learnt a lot by watching this that I didn't previously know... maybe it will clear up some thoughts for yourself

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9kKJewslsk
Great video both on the history of the piece and practice techniques.

I couldn't help but notice his answer to the often asked at PW question about 4 vs. 3 rhythmic "problem". He rightly points out that all one has to worry about is coordinating the LH and RH on the first 16th of each beat and the rest of the notes will fall into place automatically. My guess is that most of his videos are as good as this one, and he has over 600 of them!
Posted by: ChopinAddict

Re: Thoughts on Fantasie impromptu - Chopin - 01/29/13 03:23 PM

Very interesting! thumb
Posted by: Matt Walker

Re: Thoughts on Fantasie impromptu - Chopin - 01/29/13 03:30 PM

I'm working on this at the mo; it's one of my favourite Chopin pieces. Some of it is a bit contrived, maybe. But it just sounds great!
Posted by: -Frycek

Re: Thoughts on Fantasie impromptu - Chopin - 01/29/13 05:52 PM

Originally Posted By: BruceD
Originally Posted By: pianoPupil
When I hear the accents right after the intro, I always get the feeling of something grave and incessant. Hammering, laborious, even primeval. The impromptu calls to me. This is one of the pieces that keep the green feeling of piano for me.


"accents after the intro"? What accents? What intro?

"Hammering, laborious ... primeval"?

Are we thinking about the same work?!?


Maybe they mean the accents measures 13-22? Someone must be overworking the accents. I'm not sure what Chopin wanted us to do with those. I try hard not to sound like I'm shaping horseshoes.

(I also think a lot of people here are only considering the "theme" from Fantasy Impromptu, the "Chasing Rainbows" bit which may be contributing to the confusion. The whole piece played at anything approaching professional performance speed certainly isn't an easily accessible intermediate level piece as it's been described.)

As for snearing, snearing at the Fantasy Impromptu is just one of the many ways pseudosophisticates reveal themselves.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Thoughts on Fantasie impromptu - Chopin - 01/30/13 09:25 AM

I like the way it's dealt with in the movie Impromptu.

(plays “Fantasie-Impromptu in C minor”)

(sighs)

Chopin: I’m not happy with it.

Sand: Why?

Chopin: Because a perfect impromptu should seem spontaneous and free.
No-one should be able to guess at the desperate calculation behind it.
I’ve been struggling with this for so long.It’s like being tangled in a net. I feel...
I have terrible dreams at night. I think if I ever finish it, then it will have finished me.
Posted by: carey

Re: Thoughts on Fantasie impromptu - Chopin - 01/30/13 09:42 AM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
I like the way it's dealt with in the movie Impromptu.

(plays “Fantasie-Impromptu in C minor”)

(sighs)

Chopin: I’m not happy with it.

Sand: Why?

Chopin: Because a perfect impromptu should seem spontaneous and free.
No-one should be able to guess at the desperate calculation behind it.
I’ve been struggling with this for so long.It’s like being tangled in a net. I feel...
I have terrible dreams at night. I think if I ever finish it, then it will have finished me.


So now we finally know what really killed the poor guy !!!
Posted by: bennevis

Re: Thoughts on Fantasie impromptu - Chopin - 01/30/13 09:49 AM

Originally Posted By: carey
Originally Posted By: JoelW
I like the way it's dealt with in the movie Impromptu.

(plays “Fantasie-Impromptu in C minor”)

(sighs)

Chopin: I’m not happy with it.

Sand: Why?

Chopin: Because a perfect impromptu should seem spontaneous and free.
No-one should be able to guess at the desperate calculation behind it.
I’ve been struggling with this for so long.It’s like being tangled in a net. I feel...
I have terrible dreams at night. I think if I ever finish it, then it will have finished me.


So now we finally know what really killed the poor guy !!!


Gosh, that's even more awful than coughing blood onto the keyboard, then expiring.......
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Thoughts on Fantasie impromptu - Chopin - 01/30/13 09:55 AM

Speaking of sick ol' Chopin...

In all of his paintings he appears to have a skinnier face than this picture which was taken during his last year. Do you think his illness was causing facial bloating/swelling?


Posted by: TigerRad

Re: Thoughts on Fantasie impromptu - Chopin - 01/30/13 09:57 AM

I love Paul Barton.

Check out his videos about hauling a piano into the jungle to play for the elephants. Beautiful stuff.
Posted by: bennevis

Re: Thoughts on Fantasie impromptu - Chopin - 01/30/13 10:59 AM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
Speaking of sick ol' Chopin...

In all of his paintings he appears to have a skinnier face than this picture which was taken during his last year. Do you think his illness was causing facial bloating/swelling?




Kidney disease (like Mozart's Henoch-Schönlein that he suffered from in his last days) can cause bloating due to fluid retention, but Chopin had TB/consumption which is a wasting disease causing a gaunt appearance. Death is usually from bleeding into the lungs causing suffocation.

Artist's licence perhaps?
Posted by: carey

Re: Thoughts on Fantasie impromptu - Chopin - 01/30/13 12:54 PM

Originally Posted By: bennevis
Originally Posted By: carey
Originally Posted By: JoelW
I like the way it's dealt with in the movie Impromptu.
(plays “Fantasie-Impromptu in C minor”)
(sighs)
Chopin: I’m not happy with it.
Sand: Why?
Chopin: Because a perfect impromptu should seem spontaneous and free. No-one should be able to guess at the desperate calculation behind it. I’ve been struggling with this for so long.It’s like being tangled in a net. I feel...I have terrible dreams at night. I think if I ever finish it, then it will have finished me.

So now we finally know what really killed the poor guy !!!

Gosh, that's even more awful than coughing blood onto the keyboard, then expiring.......

That was another movie..... smile
Posted by: carey

Re: Thoughts on Fantasie impromptu - Chopin - 01/30/13 12:58 PM

Originally Posted By: bennevis
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Speaking of sick ol' Chopin...

In all of his paintings he appears to have a skinnier face than this picture which was taken during his last year. Do you think his illness was causing facial bloating/swelling?


Kidney disease (like Mozart's Henoch-Schönlein that he suffered from in his last days) can cause bloating due to fluid retention, but Chopin had TB/consumption which is a wasting disease causing a gaunt appearance. Death is usually from bleeding into the lungs causing suffocation.


Such a crying shame that medical science wasn't more advanced in the 19th century. Just imagine the gifts that composers like Schubert and Chopin might have given us had they lived longer.
Posted by: ju5t1n-h

Re: Thoughts on Fantasie impromptu - Chopin - 01/30/13 02:14 PM

[/quote]

Such a crying shame that medical science wasn't more advanced in the 19th century. Just imagine the gifts that composers like Schubert and Chopin might have given us had they lived longer.
[/quote]

still, some of chopin's great pieces he wouldn't have released if he stayed alive so I guess it worked out well for us! RIP chopin
Posted by: -Frycek

Re: Thoughts on Fantasie impromptu - Chopin - 01/30/13 06:58 PM

TB (if that's what he had) wasn't actually what killed Chopin. His heart killed him. The doctor that did his autospy told Chopin's sister that Chopin's heart was in worse shape than his lungs. Unfortunately, the actual autospy report has not survived. He probably had a heart condition called cor pulmonale which is heart failure caused by the heart overworking to compensate for the lack of oxygen supplied by compromised lungs. Heart failure can cause fluid accumulation. That's why Chopin's face is a bit puffy. (And probably a tab bluish). It probably actually improved his looks at that point. He also complained of bad swelling in his legs.
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Thoughts on Fantasie impromptu - Chopin - 01/31/13 01:41 AM

Speaking of Chopin pieces that I don't like anymore... the first two scherzi are pretty boring to me these days. Only the 3rd and 4th still hit it home for me. Am I the only one?
Posted by: carey

Re: Thoughts on Fantasie impromptu - Chopin - 01/31/13 02:00 AM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
Speaking of Chopin pieces that I don't like anymore... the first two scherzi are pretty boring to me these days. Only the 3rd and 4th still hit it home for me. Am I the only one?


The 1st and 4th have never done much for me - but love 2 and 3. Guess we're all different.
Posted by: Elene

Re: Thoughts on Fantasie impromptu - Chopin - 01/31/13 02:13 AM

Again, there's no reason to think that Chopin had anything against the Fantaisie-Impromptu, and although I'm extremely fond of the movie Impromptu, that scene is purest fantasy and it insults a truly great piece of music.

It is taking me forever to get beyond about 95% of the way toward learning this piece. I've been at "almost" for far too long now. But the more time I spend with it, the more respect I have for it. When it is going well, it's an ecstatic experience.

For those who are learning the Fantaisie-Impromptu, please check out the original version sold to the Baroness d'Est. While the differences are not huge, it is definitely more interesting than and superior to the Fontana version, which is what one finds in most editions.

Frycek is right about heart failure being the cause of the facial edema seen in the photograph, and the direct cause of death. (The edema couldn't very well be "artist's license" being that we're talking about a photograph. Which BTW was not colored like the version given in this thread.) And Chopin almost certainly had one or the other of two genetic conditions, rather than TB-- although there's no reason he could not have been infected with that common disease on top of the underlying illness.

I'm not crazy about the scherzi, compared with most of Chopin's output, but it's hard for me to understand the concept of being bored by any music at that level of complexity. Annoyed by some pieces, perhaps, but not bored.

Elene
Posted by: beet31425

Re: Thoughts on Fantasie impromptu - Chopin - 01/31/13 02:46 AM

Originally Posted By: JoelW
Speaking of Chopin pieces that I don't like anymore... the first two scherzi are pretty boring to me these days. Only the 3rd and 4th still hit it home for me. Am I the only one?


I'm bringing back the first scherzo, spending 1-2 hours a day with it, getting it ready for a performance in a couple days. If I ever start to feel a little tired of it, I just have to play it slowly, and listen. It's wondrous and beautiful down to its very core. Every measure. The trick is to not lose sight of that in the seething fury.

-J
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Thoughts on Fantasie impromptu - Chopin - 01/31/13 03:16 AM

I don't know... I guess I've just really steered away from early Chopin. Not to say that scherzo 2 is early or anything, but its form just doesn't seem as masterful as the last two. By the time he wrote the third scherzo his form was ratcheting up another notch. IMO...