Nocturnes – Chopin – Emmanuelle Swiercz

CHOPIN : NOX ET VOX

André Gide, a fine amateur pianist who played Chopin’s music and greatly admired the composer, wrote: “Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But since no-one was listening, it all has to be said again”. It is an aphorism I would willingly make my own, since it gives a dual sense to our Sisyphean task in music. We return to the same repertoire time and again, in an exercise which is both useful and futile. But I would also give it a slight twist, since “saying everything again” is for me a return to the sources of Romantic music in which I have immersed myself during a journey back through time, taking in Scriabin and Rachmaninoff, then Schumann and Liszt.

For Chopin, the source is the voice, that of bel canto singing. The voice becomes melody, harmony enriches it and the piano combines the two, giving body to the voice and fleshing out the harmony. Chopin’s inspiration transfigures them.

Emmanuelle Swiercz

 

From his nocturnal heart, Chopin extends an invitation to melodic and harmonic purity, stripped of gratuitous flourishes though not without ornamentation. In its refinement it recalls the highest culinary arts, where time has to be taken in order to relish all the mingled savours, all the polyphony, the counter-melodies, the modulations, the chromaticism, the dissonances, the resolutions; and, within the phrase, the subtle expression of complex feelings, occasionally euphoric, sometimes wrathful, often melancholy, but unburdened by the very fact of having been poured out to a listener whose confiding ear is capable of grasping their essence.

There is matter indeed in such a vast set of works spanning the entire lifetime of such a genius. For genius is indeed the word when each turn in his poetic road reveals a magical twilight landscape, as natural as improvisation yet as scrupulously made as Nature.

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