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Chopin Scherzi
#1570465 12/05/10 04:50 AM
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I’m in trouble ... normally a pretty decisive sort of chappie ...
but can’t put my finger on which of the Chopin Scherzi is “best” (ghastly word) ...
no sooner a decision taken than the afterthought
“but what about Scherzo ....... ”

1. Opus 20 in B minor
2. Opus 31 in Bb minor
3. Opus 39 in C# minor
4. Opus 54 in E Major

Any thoughts ... and why?

Re: Chopin Scherzi
btb #1570467 12/05/10 04:58 AM
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no. 2!! Just for the middle section!! And it's fun to play.


All theory, dear friend, is grey, but the golden tree of life springs ever green.
Re: Chopin Scherzi
btb #1570468 12/05/10 05:12 AM
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Thanks for that Fish and Chips from the UK (forgive the banter), will give the middle part of no. 2 Scherzo a closer play and try to pick up your adulation ... thanks.

PS Must just ask you to explain your “i feel sorry for Schumann” ... as a huge fan of the German chappie ... I feel RS can stand alone ... even if it was just for his famous Kinderscenen Opus 15.

In all my four years of eating fish and chips in London (post-grad) I don’t think I ever tasted Haddock ... but I expect that you just chuck your line out and land one for supper.

Re: Chopin Scherzi
btb #1570470 12/05/10 05:20 AM
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hahaha!! i don't eat fish n chips, and i don't eat haddock either. Also i'm not a fisherman.

I like Schumann but not particularly the kinderscenen.

Good luck with your Scherzo whichever you decide laugh


All theory, dear friend, is grey, but the golden tree of life springs ever green.
Re: Chopin Scherzi
btb #1570473 12/05/10 05:38 AM
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How very strange to find an Englishman who doesn’t eat fish and chips ... and wittily calls himself CanniballHaddock ... but I’ve found the mid-section of the Scherzo 2 at the change of key from 5 flats to 2 sharps (sostenuto ... sotto voce) ... haunting ... I’ll be at my piano after Sunday lunch to share your finding ... thanks again for your interest.

But in passing ... anybody who hasn’t as yet been totally captivated by the majesty of Schumann’s Opus 15 Kinderscenen ... has a bonanza in store.

PS I play all the Scherzi but am still dithering as to
which is "best" ... thus the open invitation for others to comment.

Re: Chopin Scherzi
btb #1570478 12/05/10 05:54 AM
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Ahh i see, personally i prefer the 2nd scherzo to them all, but that's my opinion. I couldn't decide which one's best on compositional structure or creativity.

I'm well aware of Schumann's Kinderszenen but i prefer his other works.

And as to eating fish and chips, stereotypes are seldom correct! But English drinking alcohol alot, now that would be more accurate.
And "TheCannibalHaddock" has nothing to do with my diet. smile


All theory, dear friend, is grey, but the golden tree of life springs ever green.
Re: Chopin Scherzi
btb #1570480 12/05/10 05:58 AM
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Oh and whilst on the subject of Chopin's scherzi i have always thought of the 3rd as sounding like an orchestra!


All theory, dear friend, is grey, but the golden tree of life springs ever green.
Re: Chopin Scherzi
btb #1570493 12/05/10 06:54 AM
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The third is my favorite, and I just finished working on it.

I also love the second and the fourth. The appeal of the second is obvious. However, the fourth is more mature and abstract than the other scherzi, and it seems to be one of Chopin's most rarely preformed large-scale works. Yet, if I had to say which scherzo is the greatest -- not necessarily my favorite -- I'd go with fourth.

Finally, the first scherzo just doesn't appeal to me as much as the others. While I love its coda and intensity, the piece is far too repetitive and overdone for my taste.

Re: Chopin Scherzi
btb #1570519 12/05/10 08:31 AM
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Originally Posted by btb
How very strange to find an Englishman who doesn’t eat fish and chips ...

I don't miss English cuisine, marmite, HP sauce, all that stuff. Fresh poached salmon anyone?


Jason
Re: Chopin Scherzi
btb #1570534 12/05/10 09:29 AM
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Now there was I in my student years sitting on a bench overlooking the Thames ... and thinking it was the in exemplary thing to munch fish and chips, neatly wrapped in a newspaper (just after WWII) ... when London still had those impenetrable fogs ... and unwary humans found themselves gushing plumes of yellow fumes.

The Gershwin brothers probably had the same experience in 1937 ... putting together "A Foggy Day"

"A foggy day ... in London town ...
Had me low ... and had me down.
I viewed the morning with alarm, ...
The British Museum had lost it's charm ...
How long I wandered, could this thing last?
But the age of miracles hadn't passed,

For suddenly, ... I saw you there ...
And through foggy London town

[b]THE SUN WAS SHINING EVR'Y WHERE.
"

Thanks cast for your input on the Scherzi ... I'm still dithering ... even Scherzo no.1 can't be relegated.



Re: Chopin Scherzi
btb #1570569 12/05/10 10:35 AM
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Originally Posted by btb
PS I play all the Scherzi but am still dithering as to
which is "best" ... thus the open invitation for others to comment.

My favorite is the 2nd, followed by the 1st and then the 3rd.

The 4th is the only one I've resisted learning. As a matter of fact, although I have 12+ recordings of the Scherzi, the 4th one is the one I've never felt like listening all the way thru - no matter who plays.

I'm sure I read somewhere that out of the 4 Scherzi, the 4th one is the only one that is a 'true' Scherzo. Has anyone else read that somewhere? Who said it?


Jose
Kawai K5 - Kawai CA61
Re: Chopin Scherzi
btb #1570706 12/05/10 02:25 PM
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My favourites are the 3rd and 4th, which are the ones I've played (I'm working through the 4rth). The third is amazing due to its extreme contrasts and intensity, and the chorale theme is incredibly beautiful. The coda if played well (like Horowitz, IMO the best recording ever) is possibly the most ferocious thing he wrote (as well as some of the most awkward writing too).

I think that the 4rth is the more perfect of the two here. The elegance and grace of the subjects are just produce so much joy. The trio in its tragic nature is really touching, intimate and sad. I love the ending where the piece flies off to infinite (similar to scriabin's 5th sonata, but that one does it differently); in fact, the 4rth scherzo really flies when played well.


Working on:
Chopin - Nocturne op. 48 no.1
Debussy - Images Book II

Re: Chopin Scherzi
btb #1570820 12/05/10 05:34 PM
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I think it's a question impossible to answer by any music/piano/Chopin lover. Sorry He wrote only 4, and only 4 Ballades, and only 3 Sonatas, and so on.


Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heure, but not anymore!
Re: Chopin Scherzi
dolce sfogato #1570826 12/05/10 05:45 PM
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Originally Posted by dolce sfogato
I think it's a question impossible to answer by any music/piano/Chopin lover. Sorry He wrote only 4, and only 4 Ballades, and only 3 Sonatas, and so on.


I agree wholeheartedly... They all have amazing qualities in their own manner. And I'm afraid that although I used to like the 2nd sonata the most, I like all three sonatas the same (as well as all 4 scherzi the same and all 4 ballades the same). I think I prefer the Polonaise Fantasie over the ballades (at least sometimes!)

Re: Chopin Scherzi
JGonzalezGUS #1570891 12/05/10 07:44 PM
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Originally Posted by JGonzalezGUS

I'm sure I read somewhere that out of the 4 Scherzi, the 4th one is the only one that is a 'true' Scherzo. Has anyone else read that somewhere? Who said it?

Well scherzo means joke and that implies a light hearted nature. All the others are fairly serious and/or tragic, but the 4th has a nature that is closer to that of a traditional scherzo.


Steve Chandler
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Re: Chopin Scherzi
btb #1570897 12/05/10 08:02 PM
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These are conservatory-level pieces that would be beyond the reach of most amateurs. I put in yrs. of effort on one of them, but eventually had to shelve it, because it would have taken too long to perfect. You'd have to be willing to put in yrs. of work to perfect one of them, which is questionable, given the nature of them: they lack the seriousness and prestige of the ballades, etudes, and concertos. If you're going to put in yrs. of work on something, it should be a more substantial work, like these.

Re: Chopin Scherzi
Steve Chandler #1570899 12/05/10 08:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve Chandler

Well scherzo means joke and that implies a light hearted nature. All the others are fairly serious and/or tragic, but the 4th has a nature that is closer to that of a traditional scherzo.

Very nice Steve, I completely agree. The B minor and Bb minor Scherzos make for rather uncomfortable listening, particularly when Argerich hits the Bb minor head-on, bulls-eye. Not very funny and very depressing.


Jason
Re: Chopin Scherzi
Gyro #1570907 12/05/10 08:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Gyro
These are conservatory-level pieces that would be beyond the reach of most amateurs. I put in yrs. of effort on one of them, but eventually had to shelve it, because it would have taken too long to perfect. You'd have to be willing to put in yrs. of work to perfect one of them, which is questionable, given the nature of them: they lack the seriousness and prestige of the ballades, etudes, and concertos. If you're going to put in yrs. of work on something, it should be a more substantial work, like these.


Hey, all you gotta do is be able to play it THIS well and the audience will love it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUiHBjQku0o

But seriously... Most people I've heard respect the Scherzi as some Chopin's more substantial music along with the ballades, etudes, and concerti (by the way, you forgot all about the sonatas).

Re: Chopin Scherzi
argerichfan #1570995 12/05/10 11:56 PM
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Originally Posted by argerichfan
Originally Posted by Steve Chandler

Well scherzo means joke and that implies a light hearted nature. All the others are fairly serious and/or tragic, but the 4th has a nature that is closer to that of a traditional scherzo.

Very nice Steve, I completely agree. The B minor and Bb minor Scherzos make for rather uncomfortable listening, particularly when Argerich hits the Bb minor head-on, bulls-eye. Not very funny and very depressing.


I am not so sure - expressing only an opinion, not fact - that Chopin did write these works in the "traditional" sense of "joke" or of something light-hearted, althought the fourth may come closer to that than the other three.

Alan Rawsthorne in Walker's Frederic Chopin, Profiles of the Man and the Musician (pp.62-63) says the following :

"With his scherzos Chopin again presented us with a family group of four, but this time the resemblances are much more clearly marked [than in the Ballades]. Possibly this removes an element of fascination which is to be found in the ballades, since one source of resemblance lies in the simplicity of their construction. But the simplicity is always forthright rather than naïve, and the method of building, as usual, arises directly out of the nature of the material. And what arrestingly original material it is! Its nature shows immediately that Chopin was not interested here in what the word 'scherzo' might suggest to most people--namely the movements so called by Beethoven in his sonatas and symphonies. About the only characteristic the two types share is the time-signature, and even this has a slightly different connotation. Beethoven's tiny bars are frequently resilient bricks which build themselves into powerful structural patterns. Each gives a small thrust to produce sommething which becomes, cumulateively, a gigantic momentum. These pieces together form so distinct a species that the wide range they cover individually is quite amazing. but in Chopin's scherzos the music flows over the bar-lines with a quite different sort of impetus. The nearest approach to Beethoven's procedure is possibly to be found in the develolpment passages of the Scherzo in C sharp minor. Again, in Beethoven's scherzos there is sometimes a quality which is usually, for want of a better word, called 'humour'. This will vary from the sardonic to the rumbustious; it can include ländler-like capers or occasionally it can be purposely amusing--as in the F major violin Sonata (the 'Spring'), for instance. On the whole Chopin's pieces encompass none of these things. A flavour of bitterness may now and again seem to be present which might, I suppose, be thought an equivalent of this quality. But these are rather hazy areas of thought. We can only note that Chopin's idea of a scherzo seemed (for reasons which today we may find hard to grasp) to confuse his contemporaries. Nowadays, when we prefer such nomenclature as 'Aleatoric Agglomeration' or 'Megacycle 23' for our compositions, such a word as 'scherzo' seems quite indecently loose. But then, it still had playful connotations, even if it did not mean a 'Scherz'. "'How is "gravity" to clothe itself", wrote Schumann, 'if "jest" goes about in dark veils?'

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: Chopin Scherzi
btb #1571041 12/06/10 02:20 AM
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I play all four and have for years and years.

The first Scherzo's character is the hardest to interpret. After the opening cracks, you're suddenly running for your life, and there's a distinct "groaning" figure (the descending thirds), and a passionate lament which is essentially the only melodic material before the slow trio. Said trio is based on a Polish Christmas song, "Sleep, Little Jesus, Sleep," which may give a hint as to what manner of expression Chopin was going for here. The coda is much easier than it sounds.

The second, unlike the first, is very loose with the Scherzo feel, almost barless really. An uninformed listener would be hard pressed to say that it was in any kind of a triple meter before quite some time had passed. It is usually described as being in B-flat minor, but there is much material in D-flat major including at the end of each section. The trio maintains the tempo of the scherzo, but daringly sidesteps into A major and undergoes a series of episodes before fading back into the scherzo. The coda is one of the most thrilling minutes in piano music.

The third requires strong octaves and light fingerwork. Of the four Scherzi, I think this one has the best integration of scherzo and trio(s). The bare octaves are decorated and transform into a heavenly chorale, though the solemn bell effects and the lento E minor section in the second trio keep it from being overly sweet. The coda is comparable to the B minor scherzo's in character, but far more difficult.

The fourth is the only one in a major key, the most difficult, and the most complex. The light staccato chords are particularly annoying. The themes gradually transform with each repetition, like he was channeling Beethoven. It's an absolute masterpiece - imaginative, memorable, unpredictable and totally individual. No other piece of music is anything like this.

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