Arthur Rubinstein plays Frédéric Chopin Piano Concerto N.º 2 Op. 21 in F minor with London Symphony Orchestra conducted by André Previn


Frédéric Chopin Piano Concerto N.º 2 Op. 21 in F minor:

– Maestoso
Larghetto
– Allegro Vivace
Arthur Rubinstein, Pianist

London Symphony Orchestra conducted by André Previn

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:    The Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minorOp. 21, is a piano concerto composed by Frédéric Chopin in 1830. Chopin wrote the piece before he had finished his formal education, at around 20 years of age. It was first performed on 17 March 1830, in WarsawPoland, with the composer as soloist. It was the second of his piano concertos to be published (after the Piano Concerto No. 1), and so was designated as “No. 2”, even though it was written first.

The work contains the three movements typical of instrumental concertos of the period: MaestosoLarghetto andAllegro vivace. What makes Chopin’s Op. 21 an early-Romantic concerto par excellence is the dominance of the piano part. After introducing the first movement, the orchestra cedes all responsibility for musical development to the piano; there is none of the true interplay of forces that is the mainstay of the classical concerto. The idea that Chopin is a poor orchestrator is an oft-flogged dead horse of music criticism; Berlioz, himself a master orchestrator, was harsh in his appraisal, calling Chopin’s treatment “nothing but a cold and useless accompaniment.” Again, the criticism seems moot. If Chopin treated the orchestra merely as a platter on which to serve the piano, it was because the genre demanded it.

If the first movement bears the stamp of the stile brillante, the second shows the influence of Italian opera. The piano style of not only Chopin, but also his contemporaries, owes much to the bel canto operas of composers likeGioachino Rossini and Vincenzo Bellini, as well as to the leading singers of the day. The delicate melodic embroidery in the outer section is unmistakably operatic; so, too, is the arioso-like piano writing, over trembling strings, in the middle section. Chopin confessed in a letter, that the second movement had been inspired by his secret passion for a younger singer at the Warsaw Conservatory, with whom he had fallen in love and dreamed of for six months without once speaking to her. This larghetto remained one of his favourites, and excited the admiration of Schumann and Liszt.

In the third movement, there is another unmistakable influence. We hear the rhythm of the Polish mazurka, though in a brilliantly stylized setting. Once again, the piano, both in its poetic and virtuosic veins, dominate the music, with the orchestra largely relegated to the roles of cushion and punctuation mark.

In the finale, the violins are at one point instructed to play col legno (with the wood of the bow).

 

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