- As played by four pianists.
Originally, A ballad was a type of verse, often a narrative set to music. Over the past hundreds of years many Ballads were written, and many were forgotten.
Polish-born composer, Frederic Chopin, composed “Four Ballads” during 1831 to 1835. And this is music that has remained a public favorite to this day. Something in this music connects with us; seemingly we re-experience some aspect of what the composer felt.
I listened carefully to this music yesterday, while not diverting my attention away from it. It was not “background music”. What expressive sounds these are! To me, this music speaks of Love, of Passion, of Sorrow, of disappointment, of loss.
This is certainly emotional music, and we cannot know if Chopin was either ill or depressed at the time of composing these pieces. And I was not depressed as a listener, either.
My sense is that one has to be a very special pianist to play these Ballades well. Let’s listen to some interpretations:
First, here is Krystian Zimerman playing Chopin’s Ballade Number 2:
Next, here is Vladimir Horowitz playing Chopin’s Ballade #1:
And next, here is Russian pianist Sviatoslav Richter playing the Chopin Ballade No. 3, Op. 47, in A-flat Major, in a live recording, Moscow, 1950:
Finally, here is Evgeny Kissin, performing the Chopin Ballade no. 4:
Interpretations such as these are very personal; which of the above are your own favorites?
Tags: Frederic Chopin, Four Ballades, Vladimir Horowitz, Murray Perahia, Krystian Zimerman, Sviatoslav Richter