CHOPIN: Cello Sonata / Polonaise Brillante, Op. 3 / Grand Duo (Bernd Glemser/ Gunter Appenheimer/ Maria Kliegel) (Naxos: 8.553159)
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Fryderyk Chopin (1810 - 1849)
Music for Cello and Piano
Sonata for Cello and Piano in G minor, Op. 65
Polonaise bri1lante in C major, Op. 3
(ed. Emanuel Feuennann)Grand Duo Concertant in E major on Themes from Robert le Diable
(in co1laboration with Auguste Franchomme)Nocturne in C sharp minor, B.I. 49
(arr. Gregor Piatigorsky)?ëtude in E minor, Op. 25, No.7
(arr. Alexander Glazunov)Waltz in A minor, Op. 34, No.2
(arr. Lev Ginzburg)?ëtude in D minor, Op. 10, No.6
(arr. Alexander Glazunov)
Fryderyk Chopin was born in 1810 at Zelazowa Wola, near Warsaw. His fatherNicolas Chopin was French by birth but had moved to Poland to work as anaccounting clerk, later serving as tutor to the Laczynski family and thereafterto the family of Count Skarbek, one of whose poorer relatives he married. Hissubsequent career led him to the Warsaw Lyceum as a respected teacher of French,and it was there that his only son, Fryderyk, godson of Count Skarbek, whoseChristian name he took, passed his childhood.
Chopin showed an early talent for music. He learned the piano from his motherand then with the eccentric Adalbert Zywny, a violinist of Bohemian origin, andas fiercely Polish as Chopin's father. His later training in music was withJozef Elsner, director of the Warsaw Conservatory, at first as a private pupiland then as a student of that institution.
In the 1820s Chopin had already begun to win for himself a considerable localreputation, but Warsaw offered relatively limited opportunities. In 1830 he setout for Vienna, a city where he had aroused interest on a visit in the previousyear and where he now hoped to make a more lasting impression. The time,however, was ill-suited to his purpose. Vienna was not short of pianists, andThalberg, in particular, had out-played the rest of the field. During the monthshe spent there Chopin attracted little attention, and resolved to move to Paris.
The greater part of Chopin's professional career was to be spent in France,and particularly in Paris, where he established himself as a fashionable teacherand as a performer in the houses of the rich. His playing in the concert hallwas of a style less likely to please than that of the more flamboyant Liszt orthan the technical virtuosity of Kalkbrenner. It was in the more refinedambience of the fashionable salon that his genius as a composer and as aperformer, with its intimacy, elegance and delicacy of nuance, found its place.
Chopin could not but admire the ability of Liszt, while not sharing his tastein music. His own background had been severely classical, based on the music ofBach, Mozart and Haydn, and by these standards Beethoven, the object ofadulation for Liszt and his circle, seemed on occasion uncouth, by comparisonwith the classical restraint of Mozart's pupil Hummel. At the same time he heldreservations about the Bohemian way of life that Liszt followed, although hehimself was to become involved in a liaison with the novelist George Sand (AuroreDudevant), which lasted for some ten years, coming to an end two years beforehis death, while Liszt's more dramatic association with another married woman, aless successful blue-stocking, the Comtesse d'Agoult, forced his withdrawal fromParis society. Both women were to take literary revenge on their paramours.
Paris was to provide Chopin with a substantial enough income as a teacher,and there was a ready market for his compositions, however reluctant he might beto commit them to paper. The country retreat of George Sand at Nohant provided achange of air that was certainly healthier for him than that of Mallorca, where,in 1838, the couple spent a disastrous winter that intensified the weakness ofChopin's lungs, already affected by the tuberculosis from which he was to die.
In 1848 political disturbances in Paris made teaching impossible, and Chopinleft the city for a tour of England and Scotland. By this time his health haddeteriorated considerably. At the end of the year he returned to Paris, now tooweak to play or to teach and dependent on the generosity of others forsubsistence. He died there on 17th October, 1849.
The greater part of Chopin's music was written for his own instrument, thepiano. At first it seemed that works for piano and orchestra would be anecessary part of his stock-in-trade, but the position he found for himself inParis enabled him to write principally for the piano alone, in a characteristicidiom that derives some inspiration from contemporary Italian opera, much fromthe music of Poland, and still more from his own adventurous approach to harmonyand his own sheer technical ability as a player.
Among the compositions of Chopin for instruments other than the piano arethree works for cello and piano. The most substantial of these is the Sonatain G minor, Opus 65, written in Paris in 1845 and 1846. It was dedicated tohis friend, the cellist Auguste Franchomme, and the last three movements wereplayed in 1848 by Franchomme and Chopin at the latter's last concert. The firstmovement, marked Allegro moderato, starts with the first phrase of thefirst subject, played by the piano and then taken up and extended by the cello.
There is a B flat major second subject and this leads, after a closing passage,to the central development, which opens with a reference to the principal themeand continues with delicate exploration of other keys and an abridgedrecapitulation. The D minor Scherzo allows the cello the opening melody,before a more equitable division of labour. To this the D major trio sectionacts as a foil, with the cello now enjoying melodic prominence, before thereturn of the scherzo. There is a shift of key to B flat major for the slowmovement Largo, opening with a singing cello melody, taken up gently bythe piano. The last movement opens dramatically enough, the piano theme taken upby the cello, which later introduces the contrasting second subject, presentedsimply enough at first, before being offered in a varied form, with cellodouble-stopping and allowing, from the piano, a resumption of the tarantellarhythm that dominates the movement, gathering energy as the end approaches. Thepiano writing is characteristic throughout, but the voice of the cello remainsclearly differentiated.
The first work for cello and piano in order of composition, the Polonaisebrillante in C major, Opus 3, was written in 1829 and 1830 and published thefollowing year in Vienna. Chopin had received encouragement from Prince AntoineRadziwill and it was during a visit to his estate in the autumn of 1829 that hewrote the Polonaise to which he later added an Introduction. In aletter to his friend Titus Woyciechowski he described it as a brilliantdrawing-room piece suitable for the ladies and designed for the Prince'sdaughter, Princess Wanda, Chopin's pupil, who played it with her father, whoplayed the cello. The published work was dedicated to the Warsaw cellist JosephMerk. The Introduction, marked Lento, opens with a piano flourish,after which the cello introduces part of an expressive melody, interrupted bythe piano. The cello resumes, leading to the principal theme of the Introduction.
The music moves dramatically into the minor and the section ends with acadenza, in the edition by Emanuel Feuermann entrusted to the cello. The AllaPolacca, better suited, perhaps, to the abilities of the Radziwills, allowsthe cello the first attempt at the polonaise theme, which is then taken up bythe piano. Again, in the present edition