Chopin Polonaise Op 40 No 2 in C minor
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The musicologist Arthur Hedley has observed that "As a pianist Chopin was unique in acquiring a reputation of the highest order on the basis of a minimum of public appearances—few more than thirty in the course of his lifetime." Chopin played more frequently in salons, not in big concert venues. He disliked a “public concert-giving” and meant that only an intimate, familiar atmosphere can let you be a witness of real art and feel the music and the artist’s soul deeply. In this concert program with the Title “Notturno” as a leitmotif, recorded at the beautiful chapel Styraburg (built at the 10th century, restored and modernized in the first half of the 19th century, at the times of Chopin’s life) we tried to come closer to the Chopin’s idea of how a piano concert should be like and to demonstrate an extract of the richness of Chopin’s palette of genres and composer’s style.
In 1840, the Polonaise in C minor was coupled with the Polonaise in A major (composed in 1838) and published in Paris as Op. 40. Chopin dedicated the pieces to Julian Fontana, one of the composer's Warsaw friends.
The Chopin Polonaise Op 40 No 2 in C minor has an unusual formal organization. It is a type of compound ternary form with the reprise of the first section truncated: ABA CDC A. In an apparent attempt to make up for the "missing" material, Chopin adds extra weight to the return of the A theme by creating a powerful buildup to it through the repetition and harmonic elaboration of a simple leaping figure in the previous four measures. The eight-measure A theme is itself remarkable in that the melodic material is the sole property of the left hand; the right provides harmonic background. For the B theme, Chopin moves the melodic interest to the right hand, which plays a gestural melody mostly in double notes. A gradual crescendo leads to a return of A.
A shift to A flat major heralds the beginning of the middle section, the C theme outlining a triad just as does the A theme. Passages of insistent rhythms alternate with more lyrical ideas as Chopin explores his harmonic palette. The reprise of A begins literally, but soon dissolves into material that provides a convincing close.