Frédéric Chopin – Piano Concerto Nº 2 Op. 21 in F minor, 1829. London Symphony Orchestra conducted by André Previn Arthur Rubinstein, pianist, 1975.
I Maestoso http://youtu.be/hKK0GfdDv4s
II Larghetto http://youtu.be/Q_dSI0gVbp0
III Allegro Vivace http://youtu.be/DgV1zxKnqEg
Complete Playlist: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hKK0Gf…
If the first movement bears the stamp of the “stile brillante”, the second shows the influence of Italian opera. The piano style of not only Chopin, but also his contemporaries, owes much to the bel canto operas of composers like Rossini and Bellini, as well as to the leading singers of the day. The delicate melodic embroidery in the outer section is unmistakably operatic; so, too, is the arioso-like piano writing, over trembling strings, in the middle section. Chopin confessed in a letter, that the second movement had been inspired by his secret passion for a younger singer at the Warsaw Conservatory, with whom he had fallen in love and dreamed of for six months without once speaking to her. This larghetto remained one of his favourites, and excited the admiration of Schumann and Liszt.
The slow movements find Frédéric Chopin at his most generously rhapsodic, the pianist diving off on sublime flights of fantasy while the orquestra offer a glowing curtain of sound.
In the third movement, there is another unmistakable influence. We hear the rhythm of the Polish mazurka, though in a brilliantly stylized setting. Once again, the piano, both in its poetic and virtuosic veins, dominate the music, with the orchestra largely relegated to the roles of cushion and punctuation mark.
In the finale, the violins are at one point instructed to play col legno (with the wood of the bow).
Kevin Bazzan states this: “Chopin’s concertos — indeed, all of his works in classical forms — have always suffered from comparisons with those of Mozart and Beethoven. It is an old cliché that the larger classical forms he had studied at the Warsaw Conservatory were incompatible with his imagination. As early as 1852, writers such as Liszt remarked that Chopin “did violence to his genius every time he sought to fetter it by rules.” But he was not trying to re-interpret the classical concerto. He was working in a different tradition called stile brillante, made fashionable by such virtuoso pianist-composers as Weber and Hummel. Chopin borrowed from their example a conception of the concerto as a loosely organized showcase for a virtuoso soloist, as opposed to a more balanced, cohesive and densely argued musical drama in the classical vein.
There is no denying that Chopin’s concertos betray a youthful want of formal sophistication but, as one observer wrote, they “linger in the memory for the poetry of their detail rather than the strength of their structures.” Those details are so bold and colourful, so imaginative and personal, that the concertos have become the only large-scale early works of Chopin to retain a place in the repertoire.
It was simple enough. As Lauritz Melchior was the greatest of heldentenors, Rubinstein was the preeminent “heldenpianist.” Boasting both an enormous dynamic range and phenomenal stamina, he could play not only long seasons but heavy heroic programs (e.g., both Brahms concertos at one sitting). He was renowned for his deep full tone, his cataclysmic volume, his velvet cantilenas, his huge declamatory octaves. Rubinstein came honestly by it all: after a youthful brush with repetitive stress syndrome, he adopted a temperate practice regimen and developed one of the most efficient virtuoso mechanisms in the history of his instrument. Its foundation was a centered posture, participation of the entire torso, and exceptional lateral mobility; working strictly with moderate-action instruments, he could dig deep into the keys.
It’s significant, then, that the end came for him not from fading fingers but failing eyesight–macular degeneration. His frontal vision suddenly went, and it was enough to take the edge off his accuracy and reliability. He prudently retired. At age 89.
Luckily the present video (three Rubinstein blockbusters–the Grieg concerto, Chopin’s Concerto No. 2, Saint-Saens’ Concerto No. 2) had been taped some months earlier on April 22-24, 1975.
Frédéric Chopin Piano Concerto N.º 2 Op. 21 em Fá menor