Monday, July 18, 2011

More on Chopin, in the "summer"

On Sunday, July 17, there was a performance of the Berceuse in D-flat Major (Op. 57)  by Frederic Chopin, played by graduated high school senior and entering college student Claire Bobst, at a summer service at the Trinity Presbyterian Church in Arlington VA.

Chopin is probably known as the pianist-composer who discovered that it’s easier to plat music on black keys (many sharps or many flats) than on the ivory.

A Berceuse is a lullaby. This work, like the Barcarolle, tends to sound a bit repetitious (it runs over a triplet-based ground bass) and, to my ear, even trite, compared to Chopin’s “big” piano works – the sonatas, ballades, and “scherzos”.    Chopin was actually very effective with large sonata forms.  The etudes work for me, too.  But – a lullaby is supposed to lull one to sleep, maybe.  It’s "summer in the city". 

In high school, I did have a Columbia recording of Istomin playing the Nocturnes, and the best of those to my ear was the unusually-formatted G Minor.  I remember listening to them during chess games “in the basement.”

Jeffrey Lee plays the work on YouTube here

Something else I noticed about summer services:  In summer, people come to the “contemporary” services in gymnasiums and fill them up. This one was low key, in a sanctuary, so not so well attended. Next week will probably be a different matter. 

Picture: "Summer" on Mt. Washington, NH (60 degrees F, actually, July 11). 

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