Chopin in the Blogosphere:
From a blog called Music is the Key, which “aspires to share the taste for classical music and to promote its great composers and interpreters. If you like an album, buy it in order to support the artists and their work.” a classic Japanese-issue CD from Helene Grimaud gets the star of the day:
The Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op. 23 is the first of Polish composer Frédéric Chopin’s four ballades for piano solo. It was composed in 1835-36 during the composer’s early days in Paris, and is dedicated to “Monsieur le Baron de Stockhausen,” Hanoverian ambassador to France.
Chopin cited the poet Adam Mickiewicz as an influence for his ballades (this according to a rumour based on a remark by Robert Schumann concerning the genesis of Chopin’s second ballade). The exact inspiration for each piece is not clear.
A travelogue around Eastern Europe from a Mumbai-born programmer…
Warsaw is the home of Frederic Chopin, the great pianist and composer. During the summers, every Sunday, the famous Park Łazienkowski hosts free concerts, where professional pianists perform one of Chopin’s masterpieces. I happened to be there on a sunday and decided to check it out. Lots of people gather at the park, lying on the grass, around the water. Its a perfect setting for some soothing piano tunes on a lazy afternoon.
This is romantic piano music of the highest order: Chopin’s Nocturnes should have a place in every record collection. Perhaps the finest example of virtuoso classical piano composition, this is deeply involving and emotional material. Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt brings out the bel canto aspects of this music beautifully, and the audio quality is first class. I prefer Hewitt’s playing to other versions I’ve heard (Pollini, for example) whose intensity and sheer sound volume can conceal the fine textures of Chopin’s night-time pieces for me.
Highly recommended reading from a blogger who isn’t a fan of Chopin’s music, but rather the composer’s writing:
For the past week, I’ve been completely drowned in the life and works of Fryderyk Chopin, whose music I have never particularly liked (except for the Nocturnes and Etudes) but with whom I am obliged to become reacquainted for the sake of the project I’m working on. I treated myself to a volume of his collected letters, which have become my favorite reading material lately; while I am not his number-one fan in a musical sense, his personality absolutely delights me. Chopin was a highly complex, extremely intelligent, fussy, gossipy, charming elitist with a wicked tongue and an often deadpan sardonic sense of humor. I’ve always thought that if I’d met him, we would have hit it off famously. His letters are a fascinating revelation both of his character and of the times he lived in; they range from beautifully tender epistles to beloved friends and family to imperious, spoiled-brat instructions to his friend Julian Fontana who was his factotum in Paris while Chopin was in Nohant and Majorca with George Sand. Interwoven with his personal life are amazing insights about the nature of creativity and art. Even if you have no interest in music, Chopin’s letters are worth reading; they are a marvelous autobiography, a first-hand portrait of a bygone age, and a testament to how much we, as a society, are lacking now that we no longer write letters