Recorded on 09/29/2009, uploaded on 09/29/2009
Musician's or Publisher's Notes
A master of the piano miniature and creating intense and expressive moods within the temporal confines of such, Chopin also applied his genius to the task of large-scale compositional forms. Unique among these larger works is the Fantasia in F minor, op. 49, composed in 1841 and Chopin’s only contribution to the genre. Demanding no prescribed formal structure and made up of varying sections, the fantasia presents a particular challenge to the composer in achieving a convincing balance between formal composition and the improvisatory character inherent within the genre itself.
The Fantasia in F minor begins with an introductory funeral march, which at first alternates between a descending monophonic line in the bass and a chordal refrain. Chopin’s often bold harmonic language is evident at the beginning of the latter section of the funeral march. Following a cadence in F minor, the appearance of a C-flat and an enharmonic change lead to a dominant seventh in E major. Yet, only a few bars later, another harmonic turn, this time through A-flat major, leads the music into F major and a new, but related, melody. Following the conclusion of the funeral march, a change in character takes place. This new section, beginning in F minor, but with a change of meter and adopting a prominent triplet rhythm, dominates much of the Fantasia. Multiple melodic ideas are presented throughout it—first, a syncopated melody, marked agitato, followed shortly by a second idea in A-flat major and the brilliant upper register of the piano; lastly, a melody over a walking bass line appears in E-flat major. Improvisatory-like arpeggios and figurations lead into a third distinctive section. Marked Lento sostenuto and featuring a dolce melody in B major, this section, however, is brief and leads to an altered reprise of the prior section. The coda begins with the opening notes of the melody from the Lento sostenuto, which then give way to a swelling A-flat major arpeggio stretched over nine measures. The final cadence concludes the piece, not in the original key of F minor, but instead its relative major. Joseph DuBose
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