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Track(s) taken from CKD248

Scherzo No 2 in B flat minor, Op 31


Artur Pizarro (piano)
Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Studio Master:
Studio Master:
Recording details: June 2004
Potton Hall, Dunwich, Suffolk, United Kingdom
Produced by Philip Hobbs
Engineered by Philip Hobbs
Release date: February 2005
Total duration: 9 minutes 59 seconds

Other recordings available for download

Stephen Hough (piano)
Garrick Ohlsson (piano)
Nikolai Demidenko (piano)
James Rhodes (piano)


'Pizarro's playing is distinctive, however: lean and muscular, rather than sentimentally refined. Occasionally, he veers towards a mood of dark, high Romanticism more associated with Liszt than Chopin, but his approach pays off in the brooding introspection of his performances of the nocturnes, while there's an earthiness in some of the valses and mazurkas that reflects on their origins in folk music' (The Guardian)» More

'Classical music purists and Chopin aficionados should not be put off by the Classic FM-type title of this disc of Chopin piano music, or by the repertoire chosen by Artur Pizarro, a very distinguished pianist (though I'm not convinced how widely that fact is realised). Pizarro's choice of pieces might resemble a selection of Chopin favourites and pops, but he brings to the most familiar music a spellbinding array of insights in this set of performances, which admirably display his intelligence and originality of thought, along with breathtakingly sensitive playing which allows Chopin's music to breathe. Listen to the heartstopping, hushed versions of the Nocturnes in B Major and C sharp minor, the achingly beautiful performance of the D flat Nocturne, and Pizarro's dry, light, super-articulate playing of that perennial barnstormer the 'Grande valse brillante', to see what I mean. Even alongside legendary recordings by such pianists as Rubinstein, this collection features some of the finest Chopin playing on record' (The Herald)

'The sound is certainly spectacular, with the distinctively rich bass and bright upper register of his favoured Blüthner grand beautifully caught by the Linn engineers. Pizarro's playing itself is interesting and makes you take notice … his Mazurkas are excellent, as is his passionate rendition of the famous Polonaise. Indeed, this could be, for me, the pick of the disc, with the pent-up tension and superbly even left hand octaves making for thrilling listening' (MusicWeb International)» More
The Scherzo No 2 in B flat minor, Op 31, was written and published in the same year as Chopin wrote the ‘Funeral March’ from his Piano Sonata No 2 in B flat minor, Op 35. The scherzo is another form extended and redefined by Chopin. The quartet of independent works he composed with this title between 1831 and 1843 has little to do with the earlier scherzos of Beethoven and Mendelssohn or with the derivation of the word ‘scherzo’ (meaning ‘joke’ or ‘jest’), although Chopin does preserve the A-B-A structure of the minuet and trio, the scherzo’s musical antecedent.

The B flat minor scherzo, the most popular of the four, opens with a striking phrase which has been aptly cited as an instance of scorn in music: a timid question followed by a forceful put-down. Wilhelm von Lenz, who studied the work with Chopin, reported that for the composer, ‘it was never questioning enough, never piano enough, never vaulted (tombé) enough, never important enough’. And on another occasion: ‘It must be a charnel house.’ There follows one of Chopin’s most inspired lyrical themes (in D flat major, as is the majority of the scherzo) before a chorale-like central section. Here the music becomes increasingly agitated before reaching an impassioned climax and a return to the opening subject. The coda is superbly written and conceived, for now the questioning phrase returns in an altered form followed by the answer. But this time the question has been answered—not with scorn but with complete accord, and the two hurtle together towards the scherzo’s triumphant conclusion.

from notes by Jeremy Nicholas © 2017

Le Scherzo n° 2 en si bémol mineur, op.31, fut écrit et publié la même année que Chopin écrivit la «Marche funèbre» de sa Sonate pour piano n° 2 en si bémol mineur, op.35. Le scherzo est une autre forme étendue et redéfinie par Chopin. Le quatuor d’œuvres indépendantes qu’il composa sous ce titre en 1831 et 1843 n’a pas grand chose en commun avec les scherzos antérieurs de Beethoven et de Mendelssohn ou avec la dérivation du mot «scherzo» (signifiant «plaisanterie»), bien que Chopin préserve la structure A-B-A du menuet et trio, l’ancêtre musical du scherzo.

Le scherzo en si bémol mineur, le plus populaire des quatre, débute par une phrase saisissante qui a été citée à juste titre comme un exemple de dédain en musique: une question timide suivie d’une vigoureuse remarque humiliante. Wilhelm von Lenz, qui étudia cette œuvre avec Chopin, signala que pour le compositeur, «elle n’était jamais assez interrogatrice, jamais assez piano, jamais assez tombée, jamais assez importante». Et à une autre occasion: «Ce doit être un charnier.» Vient ensuite l’un des thèmes lyriques les plus inspirés de Chopin (en ré bémol majeur, comme la majorité du scherzo) avant une section centrale dans le style d’un choral. Ici, la musique devient de plus en plus agitée avant d’atteindre un sommet passionné et un retour au sujet initial. La coda est une merveille d’écriture et de conception, car la phrase interrogatrice revient à présent sous une forme modifiée suivie de la réponse. Mais maintenant la question a reçu une réponse—pas avec mépris mais avec accord total, et les deux s’élancent ensemble vers la conclusion triomphale du scherzo.

extrait des notes rédigées par Jeremy Nicholas © 2017
Français: Marie-Stella Pâris

Chopin schrieb und dann auch veröffentlichte das Scherzo Nr. 2 b-Moll, op. 31, im selben Jahr wie den Trauermarsch seiner Klaviersonate Nr. 2 b-Moll, op. 35. Das Scherzo ist eine weitere Form, die Chopin erweiterte und neu definierte. Die vier selbständigen Werke dieses Titels, die Chopin zwischen 1831 und 1843 komponierte, haben wenig mit den älteren Scherzi eines Beethoven oder Mendelssohn oder gar mit der Herkunft des Wortes zu tun, das „Witz“ oder „Scherz“ bedeutet; allerdings behält Chopin den A-B-A-Aufbau des Menuetts mit Trio bei, des musikalischen Vorläufers des Scherzos.

Der markante Anfang des Scherzo b-Moll, des beliebtesten der vier Scherzi, wurde treffend als musikalisch gefasste, harsche Zurückweisung beschrieben: eine schüchterne Frage, gefolgt von einer niederschmetternden Antwort. Wilhelm von Lenz, der das Werk mit dem Komponisten einstudierte, berichtete, für diesen sei es „nie genug Frage, nie piano genug, nie genug gewölbt (tombé), nie bedeutsam genug“ gewesen … „Ein Todtenhaus muss es sein!“ Es folgt eines der schönsten lyrischen Themen Chopins (in Des-Dur wie der Großteil des Scherzos), dann ein choralartiger Mittelteil. Hier wird die Musik immer erregter, bevor sie einen passionierten Höhepunkt erreicht und zum Anfangsthema zurückkehrt. Grandios geschrieben und geformt ist die Coda: Hier kehrt die fragende Figur verändert wieder, gefolgt von der Antwort—doch nun ist die Frage beantwortet, und zwar nicht abweisend, sondern zustimmend; und beide Motive stürmen vereint in den triumphalen Schluss des Scherzos.

aus dem Begleittext von Jeremy Nicholas © 2017
Deutsch: Friedrich Sprondel

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Chopin: Four Ballades & Four Scherzos
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