Many have probably heard piano works by Polish composer and pianist Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849, born Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin), without even knowing the music is by him. For example, the opening chords of the third movement of his Piano Sonata No. 2, known as the “Funeral March,” are often used as music to create a sense of impending doom in cartoons and other television programs. British composer Edward Elgar later transcribed the sonata for full orchestra.
Chopin created many beautiful, complex and evocative pieces during his short life in the Romantic Music era. Today, I’m featuring one that I was not very familiar with before today, his Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 2 in F Minor, Opus 21 (the second movement, “Larghetto”).
Listening to this work, it’s almost incomprehensible that Chopin wrote the concerto in 1829, when he was about 19 years old.
Looking for official versions of performances didn’t round up much, but many audio recordings are available. I think my favourite of what I found is one by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Claudio Abbado, with the Yugoslav-born pianist Ivo Pogorelić (also expressed as Pogorelich), from from the orchestra’s YouTube topic channel:
The best official video of a live performance I found was by Russian pianist and composer Daniil Trifonov, from the Deutsche Grammophon YouTube channel. His hand movements are just a delight to watch.
Looking at non-official versions, this one from 1975 featuring Polish-American pianist Arthur Rubinstein (1887-1982) and the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by the German-American André Previn (1929-2019) is lovely to watch and hear.
Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today.
Thanks for joining me here, and I hope you enjoyed these versions of this piece. I know it’s not a level playing field with one being audio-only, but was there one you preferred? Please tell me about it, in the comments.