After such despondency the Third Ballade seems positively light-hearted. Based on two principal motives contained in the opening bars Chopin’s free-wheeling style once more thinly disguises a remarkable coherence, balance and symmetry. First played before an audience ‘full of golden ribbons, soft blue gauzes and strings of trembling pearls’ its musical charms could hardly fail to succeed. Others, perhaps less lavishly attired, will note that although Chopin’s contrapuntal skill in the working-out section is considerable he wears his learning lightly. With Chopin, art conceals art and the way he achieves such fine gradations and inwardness of feeling is discreetly veiled from view. Even a sudden central change to C sharp minor cannot cloud the music’s radiance for, via a series of daring modulations, the opening theme finally emerges triumphant, firmly established in the home-key and with a final cascade of ideas, previously employed, to suggest tumultuous applause.
from notes by Bryce Morrison © 2004