Recorded on 04/24/2007, uploaded on 01/13/2009
Musician's or Publisher's Notes
This is a program of interesting parallels and circular links. The focus is mid-nineteenth century Paris. We open with a piece by Wieniawski, the Polish violinist who studied at the Paris Conservatory and who credits a meeting with Chopin as his inspiration for pursuing the craft of composition. We then move to Franck, who wrote a piece for his Belgian compatriot, Ysaÿe. Both composer and performer studied at the storied Parisian cultural mecca, Ysaÿe as a student of Wieniawski. In cyclic fashion, the recital closes with a beautiful Nocturne by Chopin. To draw one final parallel to the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis, we present our newest Gold Medalist Augustin Hadelich, the recipient of prizes established under the artistic direction of our founder Josef Gingold, one of the most famous students of Eugène Ysaÿe.
Born to a Polish mother and a French ex-patriate father, Chopin spent his first twenty years in Poland. He then left for Paris where he made his career as a performer, teacher and composer. He wrote primarily for the piano and was the first Western Classical composer to express Slavic elements in his compositions. He revered the works of Bach and Mozart and pursued a classical purity in his own writing avoiding programmatic titles or allusions. The Nocturne in c-sharp minor (Op. posth.) was originally written for solo piano. This arrangement was done by Nathan Milstein, who transfers the lyricism of the original to the violin. Almost all of Chopin's nocturnes fall into a simple ABA pattern. The c-sharp minor nocturne was published after Chopin's death and was given the title "Nocturne oublié" ("Forgotten nocturne"). It may not be an authentic work by Chopin, although it certainly aims to capture his style.
Notes by Catherine Partlow Strauss,
International Violin Competition of Indianapolis
Whereas John Field invented the Nocturne—a short composition for piano, adhering to no set formal pattern and designed to evoke a particular mood without text or programme—Chopin popularized it. His twenty-one Nocturnes, two of which were published posthumously, are staples of the piano literature and brilliantly showcase the expressive qualities of the instrument.
The first of Chopin’s Nocturnes to be published posthumously, that in C-sharp minor, was actually composed in 1830, the same year as his Second Concerto for the piano. Indeed, Chopin dedicated the short composition to his older sister, Ludwika, with the inscription, “To my sister Ludwika as an exercise before beginning the study of my second Concerto.” Opening with a twice-repeated chordal passage in the dusky key of C-sharp minor, an immediate sense of despair is established, prevailing over the entire composition. Following the conclusion of this brief introduction, a legato melody full of pathos sounds from the right hand while the left provides a steady broken chord accompaniment. This simple almost song-like texture dominates much of the piece. At the conclusion of the Nocturne’s first section, a descending monophonic line in the bass leads into the key of A major. However, this transition to the major key is but short-lived and the key of F-sharp minor soon after takes hold. Maintaining the same mood as before, the middle section adopts a slightly more active rhythm in its melody as well as also embellishing it with additional harmonies. Rounding out the ternary design of the Nocturne, the first section returns somewhat modified. The melody eventually comes to rest on G-sharp over alternating tonic and dominant harmonies before concluding in a beautiful and ethereal Picardy third. Joseph DuBose
Courtesy of International Music Foundation.
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