Chopin funeral march | Trauermarsch | In memorial to terror attack vienna 02.11.20 [Anastasia Huppmann]


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Chopin funeral march | Trauermarsch | Frederic Chopin Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor, Op. 35, Part 3: Marche funèbre: Lento

Please be kind with the piano tuning: in times of the COVID-19 pandemic, the second lockdown and the terror attack on 02.11.2020 it is not easy to get a piano tuner...

German: „Im Gedenken an die Opfer des Terroranschlages am 02.11.2020 in meiner wunderschönen Heimatstadt Wien“

„In memorial to the victims of the terror attack on 02.11.2020 in my beautiful home town Vienna“

Frédéric Chopin's Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor, Op. 35, is a piano sonata in four movements. Chopin completed the work while living in George Sand's manor in Nohant, some south of Paris, a year before it was published in 1840. The third movement of the Piano Sonata No. 2 is Chopin's famous funeral march (French: Marche funèbre) which was composed at least two years before the remainder of the work and has remained, by itself, one of Chopin's most popular compositions. The Piano Sonata No. 2 carries allusions and reminiscences of music by Bach and by Beethoven; Beethoven's twelfth piano sonata also has a funeral march as its third movement.

The compositional origins of the Piano Sonata No. 2, the first mature piano sonata Chopin wrote,are centred on its third movement (Marche funèbre), a funeral march which many scholars indicate was written in 1837. However, Jeffrey Kallberg believes that such indications are because of an autograph manuscript of eight bars of music in D-flat major marked Lento cantabile, apparently written as a gift to an unnamed recipient. The manuscript, which is dated 28 November 1837, would later become part of the trio of the Marche funèbre. However, Kallberg suggests this manuscript may have been intended as the beginning of an earlier attempt of a different slow movement instead of being part of the Marche funèbre, writing that "it would have been unusual for Chopin to make a gift of a manuscript that, if it did not contain an entire piece, did not at least quote the beginning of it", as almost all of his other presentation manuscripts did.

Some time after writing the Marche funèbre, Chopin composed the other movements, completing the entire sonata by 1839. In a letter on 8 August 1839, addressed to Fontana, Chopin wrote:
I am writing here a Sonata in B flat minor which will contain my March which you already know. There is an Allegro, then a Scherzo in E flat minor, the March and a short Finale about three pages of my manuscript-paper. The left hand and the right hand gossip in unison after the March. ... My father has written to say that my old sonata (in C minor, Op. 4) has been published by and that the German critics praise it. Including the ones in your hands I now have six manuscripts. I'll see the publishers damned before they get them for nothing.

Haslinger's unauthorised dissemination of Chopin's early C minor sonata (he had gone as far as engraving the work and allowing it to circulate, against the composer's wishes) may have increased the pressure Chopin had to publish a piano sonata, which may explain why Chopin added the other movements to the Marche funèbre to produce a sonata.

The first part of this March is passionate, with the left hand laying heavy chords in a low register, evoking the sound of a ringing church bell. The solemn and heroic melody played by the right hand ultimately makes it sound serious and elegiac.

The second part of the Funeral March comes with another surprising contrast. Within one bar, the movement goes from the darkest mood to the warmest and calmest lullaby with a strikingly simple melody and harmonics. This part brings so much consolation and is so heart-warming that the listener can almost forget about the presence of death lurking around every bar of this movement. However, this ray of hope is soon to be brutally smashed by the return of the first theme – finishing with a cadence fading away, leaving the listener with nothing but dense silence.

Chopin admitted this freely in a letter he wrote to Solange, George Sand’s daughter in 1848:
When I was playing my ‘Sonata in B Flat Minor’ amidst a circle of English friends, an unusual experience befell me. I executed the allegro and scherzo more or less correctly and was just about to start the march, when suddenly I saw emerging from the half-opened case of the piano the cursed apparitions that had appeared to me one evening in the Chartreuse. I had to go out for a moment to collect myself, after which, without a word, I played on.


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