Various Compositions – Series B
This CD features quite extraordinary pieces. They were not published in Chopin’s lifetime and most of them have remained virtually unknown. They had their first performances for this recording in the reconstructed version made by the editors of the National Edition of Chopin’s Works. Written for a wide range of occasions, the compositions are of various musical merit, from a musical joke (Galop Marquis) to a highly personal utterance (Lento con gran espressione), from fleeting thoughts written down in people’s diaries (Cantabile, Moderato, Sostenuto) to pieces which could have been included among those published in the composer’s lifetime (Nocturne in E minor, Impromptu in C sharp minor), from youthful attempts which were a response to outside inspiration (Funeral March in C minor, Variants) or improvisations at dancing parties (Ecossaises) to the poignant testimony to the suffering endured in the last months of life (Nocturne in C minor).
The Funeral March in C minor (WN-National Edition 9, in other editions Op. posth. 72 No. 2) dates from the beginning of 1826. It was written most probably under the impression of the ceremonial funeral of the prominent statesmen, writer and priest Stanisław Staszic (1755-1826). Chopin was among those attending the funeral (he mentions it in a letter to Jan Białobłocki), which turned into a patriotic manifestation. The composition exhibits some similarities to the funeral march from Beethoven’s Sonata in A flat major (a rhythmically repeated minor chord in the opening phrase), a proof of Chopin having been versed in the early sonatas of Beethoven, who died the following year.
Of the five stylized Scottish dances, Ecossaises, which Chopin penned in G, D flat, D, B flat and E flat, only the first three have survived in their entirety. All of the Ecossaises were written most probably as improvised dance music. The Ecossaises WN – National Edition 13 No. 1 in G major, No. 2 in D flat major and No. 3 in D major were composed around 1827. As social dances, they were functional pieces, adding to the repertoire for the carnival balls in Warsaw prior to the November Uprising. They have the character of the then popular salon skipping dance in duple metre. Chopin marked them brillant. They all combine graceful simplicity (reminiscent of Schubert’s dances) with pianistic elegance and humour, typical of Chopin’s early period.