York Bowen plays Chopin Ballade No.3, op.47





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Uploaded on Jan 2, 2010

Ballade in A-flat op.47, recorded in 1925.


Although the term 'ballade' was associated with the French poetry in the 1400s, it was until the 19th century that it was no longer merely used by only poets to tell story. Chopin composed his four ballades during his mature stage after he left his homeland Poland. It is said that Chopin wrote music for the Lithuanian Ballads of the Polish Adam Mickiewicz.

Even Schumann mistakenly commented that Chopin's ballades were as programmatic as his own works. This is misleading since Chopin was never interested in music with titles, programs, or characters in the true sense like Schumann. The narrative sequence in Chopin's ballades does not follow any specific format; it is embedded in many unpredictable and creative phrases throughout the music. Chopin even did not consider Schumann's Carnival Op.9 music at all.

Chopin's ballades are pure music in their finest forms without any suggestive narration. Though Chopin was somewhat inspired by the stories of his native Poland and particularly the poems of Adam Mickiewicz, he wanted listeners to follow their own narration through his music. Therefore all analyses on the content of Chopin's ballades are merely suggestions. It is not necessary to know the poem or content to interpret these abstract works.

The ballades are considered the finest of Chopin's creation and among the most representative of romantic music. Liszt, Brahms, among others, also composed the genre ballade after Chopin, but the musical term ballade is widely associated with Chopin.

The third ballade was composed during 1840-41 and dedicated to Mademoiselle Pauline de Noailles. According to Bourget and Schumann, this ballade was close to Mickiewicz's "Switez", a tragic narration of man's uncertainty and beautiful maiden's deception. Quite different from the first two ballades, this ballade opens with a very long introductory conversation before the main theme appears. This is the most resembling of a dance form among Chopin's ballades.


Edwin York Bowen (1884 - 1961)

English composer and pianist. Bowens musical career spanned more than fifty years during which time he wrote over 160 works. He achieved considerable success during his lifetime both as a concert pianist and composer. He performed regularly at both the Queen's Hall and the Royal Albert Hall. As a pianist he was recognised for his technical ability and artistic excellence.

As well as being a pianist and composer, Bowen was a talented conductor, organist, violinist and horn player. Despite achieving considerable success during his lifetime, many of the composers works remained unpublished and unperformed until after his death in 1961. Bowens compositional style is widely considered as Romantic and his works are often characterised by their individuality and rich harmonic language.

Saint - Saens, described him as "the most remarkable of the young British composers" and he was often referred to as "The English Rachmaninov".


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