Miniature Preludes, take 2

Welcome! 🙂 I hope the daily music posts here on the blog are giving you a boost, in these strange and unsettling times. If you’re new to the series and would like to check out earlier posts, you’ll find the first one here.

Today’s post features two short pieces by Frederic Chopin (1810-1849). A couple of days ago, I posted two of his Preludes for piano, which you can check out here. (You’ll also find more info there about Chopin and his style as a composer.) Today’s post includes two more preludes, with a similar contrast of darkness and light.

The first of these two, in C minor, is one of my favorites. Chopin’s music is often quick and light, full of flourishes, but in this prelude, he embraces a much more dense style of writing. The dark chords, heavily balanced to the bass, make this sound like a solemn hymn, full of great power and majesty. The second prelude, in F Major, is a bit more typical of what we might think of as Chopin’s signature style. It’s light and flowing, deliberately exploring the piano’s huge range by starting in the mid- to low register and moving up one octave, and then up another octave. (In the recording, my hands get so close to the camera at the top of the keyboard that you can’t see them anymore. 😉 ) I think these two preludes make a particularly good pairing.

As you listen, if you’d like, consider the “stories” behind these two pieces. What do you think might have inspired the emotion of each one? Taken together in the order they’re given here, what kind of emotional shift happens between them? As always, you’re welcome to share your thoughts and responses to the music in the comments.

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