Monday, December 27, 2010

Chopin's Charm

For the last few days, I can't stop listening to Chopin's Ballade No.1, Op.23.

Growing up I was never a fan of Chopin's work. I played quite a lot of his waltzes but otherwise had very narrow exposure of his music. Also I was going through a rebellious feminist phase, turned off by anything romantic. So I discounted his music as "nice background music" and never explore further.

As I return to practicing the piano, I attempt some of his Etudes to improve my technique, and ended up falling in love with Op. 10 No. 9. If he could write an exercise piece that breaks my heart (take that Hanon!), what else he could do? Browsing through my current favorite pianist's work I found the ballades, and I'm still at No. 1.

Well it is anything but background music. Its dramatic narration is at times melancholy, reflective, and at times hopeful. It grabs your heart to a stormy journey and leaves you with a maddening ending.

I'm sure my inclination to repeat listening is partly due to my obsessive nature. But the popularity of this piece has proven that I'm not the only one drawn to it. Now I have to scour other interpretations of the piece to compare. Maybe next year I'll be able to move on to Ballade No. 2.

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