Chopin: Ballade no. 3 A flat major, Op 47 (Cortot 1929)





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Published on Dec 22, 2011

Alfred Cortot (piano). Recorded 1929

An excerpt from Cortot's own comments regarding this ballade:

"In the last two Ballads, Chopin appears to have abandoned the principle upon which the musical construction of the preceeding Ballads is founded, namely that of dramatically opposing the themes.
Indeed, the contrasting characters of their generating subjects is much less apparent in these, and their initial relationship suggests tendencies in accordance with one another, a kind of secret connection, rather than a conflict.
This is however, only a very superficial impression, and the interpretation of these works would be very unconvincing; if it failed to illuminate the subtle intentions both of rhythm and sentiment, which differentiate musical ideas closely allied in appearance.
In this Ballad in particular, which is known to illustrate Mickiewickz's legend, "Ondine", the relationship between the two subjects easily explains itself, since in both one tone-sentence and the other, it is the idea of Love itself which should be evoked. But while in the first, we see the tender exaltation of mutually plighted troths, the second gives us a glimpse into the fairy domain of supernatural seduction.
Modelling itself on the poetic argument, the development of the music tends to widen progressively the gulf between the shades of meaning which originally characterize these two fundamental propositions, and in the conclusion, Chopin succeeds, with the eloquence of genius, in investing the first with pathos of passionate supplication, while conferring upon the other, the irresistable accent of domination. It is in the translation of the various phases of this evolution, that the duty of the interpreter lies, if he is not to content himself with merely playing the notes of the piece."

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