Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
“Before God, I tell you that your son is the greatest composer known to
me.“ These were the words of Joseph Haydn upon meeting Mozart’s father.
This “greatest composer” indeed went on to become the outstanding musical
genius of his time. During his
relatively short life, the childlike and ebullient Mozart was a prolific
composer who never surrendered his artistic freedom, and it is due to this
deep individuality of spirit that we are today blessed with music of such
Fantasia No. 3
in D minor, K. 397 was
composed by Mozart for solo piano in 1782. Despite being unfinished at
Mozart's death, the piece is nonetheless one of his more popular
compositions for the piano. Because of its somewhat unusual rhythm, its
constantly changing tempo and its complete lack of any recognizable
musical form (as indicated by the "Fantasy" title), the Fantasia is
considered to be a relatively challenging piece to perform. The original
manuscript has not survived and the final measures of the piece have been
lost. The ending as it currently exists is believed to have been written
by August Eberhard Müller, a contemporary Mozart admirer.
Piano Sonata No. 8 in A Minor K310 was composed in 1778 and is
the first of only two Mozart piano sonatas to have been composed in a
minor key. Written around the time of the death of Mozart's mother, it is
the darkest of his piano sonatas. The last movement in particular has an
obsessive, haunted quality about it, heightened near the end by the
interruption of the relentless drive to the conclusion by repeated and
quiet falling passages.
More than any other composer, Chopin has become associated
with the pianoforte and he was widely regarded as the leading piano
virtuoso of his day. Remarkably, however, because of his dislike of large
audiences, Chopin gave only 30 public performances throughout his entire
life. Always a kind, courteous and considerate person, no one, having met
Chopin, could fail to like him and in spite of a tormented love life and
frequent bouts of illness, Chopin has left us with many beautiful and
Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op.
23 is the
first of Chopin's four ballades. It was composed in 1835-36 during the
composer's early days in Paris and is dedicated to Monsieur le Baron de
Stockhausen, Hanoverian ambassador to France, and reportedly inspired by
Adam Mickiewicz's poem Konrad Wallenrod. Chopin seemed to have been fond
of the piece; in a letter to Heinrich Dorn, Robert Schumann commented
that, "I received a new Ballade from Chopin. It seems to be a work closest
to his genius (although not the most ingenious) and I told him that I like
it best of all his compositions. After quite a lengthy silence he replied
with emphasis, “I am happy to hear this since I too like it most and hold
Étude No. 8 in F major Op. 10
is a technical study that has
been nicknamed the "Sunshine" etude. This work follows on from No. 7 as
being primarily another work concerned with counterpoint. In this case,
however, the principal melody is in the left hand, the secondary being
embedded in the arpeggios of the right hand.
Scherzo No. 1 in B minor, Op. 20
is a composition for solo piano written by Chopin in 1835 and dedicated to
Thomas Albrecht. The tempo is marked with "Presto con fuoco" and the piece
is very dark, dramatic and lively.
Spianato and Grande Polonaise, Op. 22
is the last of Chopin’s works
on this CD. The Andante Spianato he composed in 1834, having already
completed the Grande Polonaise in 1831 during his unhappy stay in Vienna.
Both works were published together in Paris in 1836. Chopin performed the
complete work in Paris on 26 April 1835. The introductory Andante Spianato
for piano solo, in its poetic harmony, is Chopin at his best, his
life-long love of Polish dance forms where used in his Polonaises of
sometimes heroic dimensions.