11/12/2021, 19.30 h: Schloss Bad Krozingen

Historical sources often suggest that Chopin played immeasurably vocal. What this means in concrete terms, however, usually remains in the dark. In the meantime, it has remained unclear whether said vocality extends to virtuoso works and, if so, in what way.

As part of his artistic research on Chopin’s vocality, pianist Hardy Rittner has dealt with sources that open up a new perspective on the cantabile style in Chopin’s oeuvre. By evaluating two central new sources, it can be shown that Chopin’s cantabile style was virtually omnipresent. In addition, it becomes transparent what Chopin’s piano playing was characterized by in pianistic terms: a comprehensive overlegato and (not only) Belcanto-inspired melodic emphasis, which required subduing the context notes deemed non-melodic. In contrast to the main musical matter, this way of playing (“my style”) often viewed virtuoso passages as merely a delicate accompaniment. Accordingly, Robert Schumann describes Chopin’s playing of his Etude op. 25, No. 2 as “so lovely, dreamy and quiet, like a child’s singing in his sleep.”

Rittner’s research brings to light surprising findings that apply to all of Chopin’s genres. Among other things, this leads to the insight that our previous understanding of Chopin’s bravura repertoire does not correspond to what was genuinely intended.

Musically implementing the findings outlined above, the concert evening presents a changed image of Chopin’s brilliant works and reconstructs a highly idiosyncratic sound, the realization of which on a historical Pleyel grand piano around 1846 is of course particularly worthwhile.