Classical Music CD Chopin: Mazurkas

Michel Block, Piano
Chopin: Mazurkas
Fédéric Chopin (1810 - 1849): 22 Mazurkas
· Op.67 No.3 (posthumous) in C Major
· Op.68 No.3 (posthumous) in F Major
· Op.68 No.4 (posthumous) in F Minor
· Op.17 No.4 in A Minor
· Op. 7 No.2 in A Minor
· Op. 7 No.3 in F Minor
· Op.41 No.1 in C-sharp Minor
· Op.41 No.2 in E Minor
· Op.24 No.1 in G Minor
· Op.24 No.4 in B-flat Minor
· Op.30 No.4 in C-sharp Minor
· Op.50 No.1 in G Major
· Op.50 No.2 in A-flat Major
· Op.50 No.3 in C-sharp Minor
· Op.56 No.1 in B Major
· Op.56 No.2 in C Major
· Op.56 No.3 in C Minor
· Op.59 No.1 in A Minor
· Op.59 No.2 in A-flat Major
· Op.63 No.2 in F Minor
· Op.63 No.3 in C-sharp Minor
· Notre Temps, No.2 in A Minor

Chopin: Op.67 No.3 in C Major

“The dash with which the partners rush forward, the clinking and clattering of spurs as heel clashes with heel in mid air, punctuating the staccato of the music, the loud thud of boots striking the ground, then the swift springs and sudden bounds, the whirling gyrations, graceful genuflections and quick embraces -- and all the other intricate and maddening movements -- awaken and mobilize all the antique heroism, medieval chivalry and wild romance that lie dormant in the depths of men’s being.”  Thus, an English visitor rapturously described the sweeping gestures and intricate figures of a mazurka in an aristocratic ballroom of Eastern Europe -- a “soul thrilling” dance that he said required “a great deal of room” and “grace, grace, grace.”  
Mazurkas originated in the Polish province of Mazovia, the birthplace of Frederic Chopin (1810-49), the only famous master who composed almost exclusively for the piano.  A frail youngster, Chopin spent his summer breaks from the Warsaw Lyceum in the fresh country air of the village of Szafarnia where he heard lots of traditional peasant music.  Rural bagpipes originally accompanied the rustic triple-meter mazurka with its strong accents on the normally weak second or third beat, and Op. 56, #2 evokes this wild peasant dance and bagpipe drones.
In an age which worshipped virtuoso performers, Chopin was more interested in showing what the piano itself could do. In the process of exploiting pianistic possibilities, he created one of the most beautiful and original piano styles of the 19th century, eloquent and extremely intimate. His refined music looks back to old masters like Bach and Mozart, rather than to the thundering passion of Beethoven or the super-emotional piano playing of his own colleagues. Because of his temperament, his most characteristic music takes the form of elegant miniatures intended for a small circle of selected friends.
Chopin’s youthful dream “to penetrate to the heart of our national music” was realized in an 1842 description of the mazurkas as a “branch of Polish national literature.”  But it was Franz Liszt who paid the definitive compliment when he commented on “the haughty, yet tender and alluring, character of the mazurka” and “how perfectly Chopin’s setting suited the varying emotions that he succeeded in displaying in all the magic of their rainbow lines.”   Kathy Henkel


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