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Last Chord of Chopin's Op.61
#399982 05/11/07 07:05 PM
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Why is it written ff? I don't understand.

I asked my teacher and she said because it's a polonaise, and polonaises usually end like "BANG! BANG!" But to me that's not a convincing argument, because Op.61 is the most un-polonaisic polonaise Chopin wrote. And since Choin wrote differently for Op.61, there is no reason to assume the last chord has to be ff to preseve the character of a poloanise.

Playing last chord ff sounds very awkward and obstrusive, especially after the ritentuo section that end in pp. One could argue that the last tonic chord serves as a declamation, but if it's a declamation, one single ff chord after 2 pp chords does not sound very strong to me.

Would you agree that it will be more musically effective if the last chord were written pianonissimo?


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Re: Last Chord of Chopin's Op.61
#399983 05/11/07 09:19 PM
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...because it's a polonaise, and polonaises usually end like "BANG! BANG!"

I think you might suggest to your teacher that she look at some Polonaises.

To take only those of Chopin :
No 1 (Op 26, No 1) ends pianissimo (pp)
No 2 (Op 26, No 2) ends pianississimo (ppp)
No 3 (Op 40, No 1) ends fortissimo (ff)
No 4 (Op 40, No 2) ends fortississimo (fff)
No 5 (Op 44) ends pianissimo (pp) followed by a fortissimo (ff) chord
No 6 (Op 53) ends fortissimo (ff)
No 7 (Op 61) ends pianissimo with a fortissimo (ff) chord.
No 8 (Op 71, No 1) ends forte (f)
No 9 (Op 71, No 2) ends mezzo-forte that is, a forte in the penultimate bar followed by a diminuendo.

So, apart from, perhaps the Op 53, where are all the "BANG! BANG!" endings.

Your teacher might also look at some of the other works of Chopin that have similarly accented endings :
The Nocturne in F minor, Op 55, No 1, ends quietly in F major arpeggios in the upper register, followed by four bars of F major chords, played f
the Nocturne in E-flat, Op 55, No 2, ends similarly: pianissimo, rallentando but with two bars of E-flat major chords played f
The last three pages of the F# major Impromptu are all played p, but the last two chords are ff
The third impromptu, in similar fashion, ends quietly but the final three bars go from fto ff

As to your last question, Chopin obviously intended the Polonaise to end fortissimo; whether or not you think it would be "more musically effective" is your choice. It's not what Chopin wrote.

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: Last Chord of Chopin's Op.61
#399984 05/12/07 09:19 AM
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To my ears, this last section of the P-F is clearly a battle tableau - it couldn't be more literal. The four bars that precede the 'forte assai' are the final charge, then there's the clashing of the arms, the cannon fire, and a horn fanfare signals the arrival of the galloping cavalry (sempre ff) to smite the enemy. As the foes disperse, the music relaxes and winds down, the victor surveys the spoils (last line) and raises a clenched fist in triumph (last chord). I can't see how it could end any other way!

Re: Last Chord of Chopin's Op.61
#399985 05/12/07 09:53 AM
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Quote
Originally posted by jpw101:
To my ears, this last section of the P-F is clearly a battle tableau - it couldn't be more literal. The four bars that precede the 'forte assai' are the final charge, then there's the clashing of the arms, the cannon fire, and a horn fanfare signals the arrival of the galloping cavalry (sempre ff) to smite the enemy. As the foes disperse, the music relaxes and winds down, the victor surveys the spoils (last line) and raises a clenched fist in triumph (last chord). I can't see how it could end any other way!
We each have our own way of interpreting music and expressing what it means to each of us is our individual prerogative. I am one, however, who eschews "literal" or specific programmatic interpretations of abstract music. I neither see nor hear the charge, the cannon fire, the galloping cavalry, nor do I see the "clenched fist in triumph".

I am reminded that, after all, the "polonaise" is a dance form, and from Chopin's pen, it is a concertized dance form. I don't think that one should totally lose sight of that.

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: Last Chord of Chopin's Op.61
#399986 05/12/07 11:19 AM
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Quote
Originally posted by BruceD:
I am reminded that, after all, the "polonaise" is a dance form, and from Chopin's pen, it is a concertized dance form. I don't think that one should totally lose sight of that.

Regards,
Very true. I've never gone in for the programmatic aspects of Romanticism, and Chopin was a Classicist in that respect. However, this being titled Polonaise-Fantasie, the polnaise aspect is much less up front than in, say, Op. 53.

To the matter at hand, I think the chord works best as written. If you feel it doesn't work, don't play it.


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Re: Last Chord of Chopin's Op.61
#399987 05/12/07 11:46 PM
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Bruce- the majority of your forte symbols are typo'd

Re: Last Chord of Chopin's Op.61
#399988 05/13/07 12:39 AM
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The f minor fantasy (Op. 49) ends similarly. Quiet, then Bang, Bang. Maybe it's just something Chopin liked to do every now and then. laugh


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Re: Last Chord of Chopin's Op.61
#399989 05/13/07 12:44 AM
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I just performed that fantasy in recital. GORGEOUS piece. Lovely melodies and structurally conducive to a really special musical experience. I think I would've liked a soft ending...but eh, what can ya do? wink

Re: Last Chord of Chopin's Op.61
#399990 05/13/07 08:38 AM
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Quote
Originally posted by asherf:
Bruce- the majority of your forte symbols are typo'd
What do you mean? Are you suggesting that the dynamics marked in the editions I consulted - and which are consistent from edition to edition (Novello, Peters, Henle) - are not authoritative? That the "majority of them" are "typos"?


BruceD
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Re: Last Chord of Chopin's Op.61
#399991 05/13/07 09:09 AM
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BruceD- No, what asherf is saying is that your symbols are not correct with the actual word for the symbol. Such as:

ppp-pianississimo
pp-pianissimo
p-piano
f-forte
ff-fortissimo
fff-fortississimo

I'm almost positive that is the correct translation for the terms, however, I may be wrong and you may be right seeing as how I'm not familiar with the polonaises. See what you wrote, make sure thats what you intended.

-dane

Re: Last Chord of Chopin's Op.61
#399992 05/13/07 09:12 AM
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it's mostly the fortes he wrote "forte - ff"

It's not the biggest deal in the world, something I would do and I'd probably do much worse with it, just a little mistake. Just a tad confusing when reading through. No need to make a full thread on it though :p

Re: Last Chord of Chopin's Op.61
#399993 05/13/07 10:10 AM
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Quote
Originally posted by asherf:
it's mostly the fortes he wrote "forte - ff"

It's not the biggest deal in the world, something I would do and I'd probably do much worse with it, just a little mistake. Just a tad confusing when reading through. No need to make a full thread on it though :p
Thank you for the corrections. Theoretically, they weren't typos - mistakes in typing - they were errors due to carelessness on the one hand and ignorance on the other. I have edited my post accordingly.

Thank you.

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: Last Chord of Chopin's Op.61
#399994 05/13/07 10:14 AM
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Quote
Originally posted by Kreisler:
The f minor fantasy (Op. 49) ends similarly. Quiet, then Bang, Bang. Maybe it's just something Chopin liked to do every now and then. laugh
And the Barcarolle end Bang, Bang - actually it's more like: "Bang, Bang! Bang, Bang!"

D)

Re: Last Chord of Chopin's Op.61
#399995 05/13/07 04:32 PM
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Quote
Originally posted by Phlebas:
Quote
Originally posted by Kreisler:
[b] The f minor fantasy (Op. 49) ends similarly. Quiet, then Bang, Bang. Maybe it's just something Chopin liked to do every now and then. laugh
And the Barcarolle end Bang, Bang - actually it's more like: "Bang, Bang! Bang, Bang!"

D) [/b]
I am glad you guys brought this up. I actually have the same issue with Op.49, Op.60, etc. But the barcarolle has a downward cres. scale that paves the way for the ff chords. So the Bang! Bang! ending does not sound as obstrusive as the one in Op.61.

For me, some of the choices composers made in their music are hard to "make sense," so I am willing to consider a programmatic description especially when a musical justification is apparently elusive. It's easy to say "That's what the composer did, play it that way. If you don't like it, dont' play it." But It's another thing to try to explain WHY the composer made certain choices in a musical, historical, or even a programmatic context.

Anyway, thanks for everyone's posts. cool


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Re: Last Chord of Chopin's Op.61
#399996 05/13/07 05:18 PM
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He did it so the audience would wake up and start applauding! wink


Semipro Tech
Re: Last Chord of Chopin's Op.61
#399997 05/16/07 11:09 AM
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The end of Chopin's Sonata op. 35. has also this "Bang Bang" ending which I don't see the point of. It sounds unnatural and is annoying to play. Why doesn't it and like prélude 14, a "fade out"?


Robert Kenessy

.. it seems to me that the inherent nature [of the piano tone] becomes really expressive only by means of the present tendency to use the piano as a percussion instrument - Béla Bartók, early 1927.

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