Chopin for Violin?

Frederic Chopin

A huge part of Frederic Chopin’s music was composed for solo piano, or for piano and orchestra. Here and there are a few chamber music pieces, but these are not many.

Yesterday I heard the wonderful violinist, Joshua Bell, perform an arrangement of Chopin’s Nocturne number 20 in C-Sharp minor. This was originally composed for piano alone in 1830, and Joshua Bell created a version in which he performs the melody, with piano accompaniment. Mr. Bell is a wonderfully expressive musician, so this piece comes off really well, as you can judge from the following video:



Chopin wanted this piece to be played with “con gran espressione”, meaning “with great expressiveness. And certainly Mr. Bell presents the piece that way.

Now I will show you a few interpretations of the same piece played by piano alone, by a variety of artists. You be the judge, as to which one you find expresses the composer’s emotion in the manner most meaningful to you:

Here is an interpretation by Daniel Barenboim:



And now, here is Vladimir Ashkenazy:



And finally, listen to Claudio Arrau perform the same piece:



The three pianists are all wonderful, and I have a slight preference for Ashkenazy’s performance. What about you? If you wish, you may leave a comment at the bottom of this post.

Tags: Chopin, Nocturne number 20 in C-Sharp minor, violin, Joshua Bell, Ashkenazy, Barenboim

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