Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Imagining Again What Chopin Heard

"Bach and Sons: Listening for the Future" is the theme of my current recital series.  Along with selections by the aforenamed I am programming requests from students and audience members.  This month's request was for Chopin waltzes.  What a tremendous gift that request has turned out to be!

It has caused me to imagine Chopin having heard CPE Bach and WF Bach in addition to his well-known admiration for Bach pere.  I hear in the waltzes, especially the A minor, direct connections to keyboard techniques used by the two Bach sons:  it is extraordinary what a difference it makes in recreating a sound universe.

I feel privileged to have had an organist's training with so much emphasis on articulation and touch--it occurs to me that every keyboard musician of that time would have played many different instruments each with a distinctive action, tonal coloration, and touch to match.  I can only imagine JS Bach sitting down at a fortepiano and realizing that this was a whole new animal, therefore not presuming to write for it just because it was there.  At the same time I can imagine his taking to this new creation had he but world enough and time.  I see no logic whatsoever in emulating Baroque keyboard sounds, whatever they may be, on the modern piano.