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Classical Music Library Free Download of the Week

Posted on: Jun 6, 2013 @ 3:16:18 pm

Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 2, op. 21

Though a genius when composing for the piano, Polish composer Fryderyk Chopin (1810–1849) wasn't a natural when it came to writing for the orchestra. The two piano concertos, composed in 1829–30 before he left his native Warsaw, serve primarily as vehicles for piano virtuosity. Berlioz, in particular, criticised his use of the orchestra as "nothing but a cold and almost useless accompaniment."

The Piano Concerto No. 2 was performed at Chopin's first big concert at Warsaw's National Theatre on March 17, 1830. The concert was such a success it had to be repeated, the audience delighted by the combination of Polish folk material and astonishing piano virtuosity.

Chopin later revealed that the larghetto of the concerto was composed while he was in love with a young singer at the conservatory, Konstancia Gladkowska. It's not hard to see the effect his passion had on the writing of this movement.

The finale, like the First Piano Concerto, is based on a Polish folk dance. Listen for the string players using the wood of their bows to produce a rattling accompaniment (col legno).

This recording is performed by the Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Wojciech Michniewski, featuring soloist France Clidat.

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