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From Mazurka to Melodie: Chopin Mazurkas & Pauline

From Mazurka to Melodie: Chopin Mazurkas & Pauline

  • By Eva Peng & Anthony Olson
  • Release 06/03/2012
  • Media Format CD
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Price: €21.08

Product Notes

In the nineteenth century, the "golden age" of transcription, solo piano arrangements of vocal music flourished. This tradition was turned "upside-down" by the great mezzo-soprano Pauline Viardot (1821-1910), who created some interesting vocal arrangements of piano pieces. Among her vocal transcriptions are several Chopin mazurkas that she arranged using French texts by Louis Pomey. These unique transcriptions, made with Chopin's blessing, provide a "window" through which we can view nineteenth century performance practice. Written by a highly respected performer, these works give us a small glimpse into how performers in the 1800s may have improvised at the piano. Numerous contemporaries of Chopin wrote about his playing - performers, historians, his students, music critics, etc. Nearly every witness noted how Chopin changed his pieces with each performance, never playing the same piece the same way twice. He was particularly fond of improvising in his mazurkas and nocturnes. He also wrote a large number of variants and alternate cadenzas for his own pieces when teaching them to his students. For his famous Nocturne in E-flat Major, Op. 9, no. 2, for example, Chopin left three different cadenzas and dozens of radical changes to the themes. By studying Viardot's delightful arrangements, we can get a taste of how Chopin may have improvised when playing. In all of the vocal arrangements that Viardot made from Chopin's mazurkas, she embellished themes on their repetitions and added vocal cadenzas before the final appearance of the main theme. Pauline Viardot was born in Paris in July of 1821 and died in the same city in May of 1910. She was of Spanish origin and came from a family of singers. Her first voice lessons were given to her by her father aboard an Atlantic schooner while crossing the ocean to Mexico where she traveled with him across the wild, open country. Viardot's talent developed quickly; she had a vocal range of three octaves and her performances were highly praised nearly everywhere she went. Her first concert tour took her to Germany when she was a teenager; there she performed her own songs, accompanying herself at the piano. She knew nearly every famous composer of her day: Chopin, Liszt, Tchaikovsky, Rossini, Fauré, etc. Many of these composers created operatic roles especially for her. She sang the première performance of the Brahms Alto Rhapsody and Saint-Saëns dedicated his opera Samson and Delila to her. Robert Schumann dedicated his song cycles Liederkreis, Op. 24 and 39, to her. In addition to being a highly accomplished singer, she was also a pianist and composer. Viardot wrote operas, choral works, songs, solo piano pieces, and chamber music. In her youth, she studied piano, her primary piano teacher being Franz Liszt. It was only after considering a career as a concert pianist that she settled on one of singing. Viardot was a good friend of Chopin's mistress, the writer George Sand. Sand invited Viardot to stay with her at her summer home and Viadot spent numerous summers with her and Chopin in the early 1840s. Pauline studied music with Chopin and sang several concerts with him at the keyboard during this time. Although the original manuscripts of the mazurka transcriptions are lost, scholars believe that Viardot began making her arrangements during these summers. She transcribed a total of twelve Chopin mazurkas and sang them often in concert. All but two of Viardot's arrangements are for high voice; the other two works are vocal duets. Chopin was enthusiastic about Viardot's work and described her compositions as "well-constructed, displaying a fine musical intelligence. They are vital, with a rich harmonic palette and a strong sense of style." He collaborated with her in performance of these transcriptions on at least one occasion. Viardot and Chopin were both in England during the summer of 1848 and Chopin invited Viardot to sing her arrangements in one of his London concerts in July of that year.

Details

Title: From Mazurka to Melodie: Chopin Mazurkas & Pauline
Release Date: 06/03/2012
Label: CD Baby
Media Format: CD
UPC: 822371138881
Item #: 218804X
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