Meyerbeer’s Robert le Diable
had a sensational premiere in Paris on 21 November 1831. Set in thirteenth-century Sicily, the libretto, ‘in which the grotesque is carried to the point of absurdity’ (Kobbé), was saved by Meyerbeer’s brilliant score, and the work made a fortune for the Paris Opéra. Its themes attracted dozens of composers including Thalberg, Kalkbrenner, Herz and Liszt. Chopin was commissioned by his publisher Schlesinger to write this potpourri, a brilliant display piece of the kind that was so popular in the Parisian salons of the time. After the piano’s Largo introduction, among the themes used are the Romanza and the chorus ‘Non pietà’ from Act 1, and ‘Le mie cure ancor dei cielo’ (Act 5). Composed in 1831, it is one of only four Chopin works published in his lifetime without an opus number and the only one to be composed in collaboration, in this case with his friend the cellist August Franchomme.
from notes by Jeremy Nicholas © 2010