Chopin's Mazurkas - Part 5

This article is part 29 of 52 in the 2022 music project series.
This article is part 5 of 9 in the Reviewing Chopin's mazurkas series.
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It's been a while since I've done this as I got a mild obsession with covering guitar solos. But that's over for the moment and I'm excited to pretend to be excited about Chopin's 700 mazurkas. I can't believe I'm only up to Opus 33.

Quatre Mazurkas

For à Mlle la Comtease Mostowka.

Op. 33, No. 1 in G♯ minor

This one is super short and straightforward and I don't much to say. It has some neat little descending chromatic diminished chords that lead into the main theme. The same motif returns a few bars later and it turns out it was diatonic all along. What a tease.

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Descending diatonic scale to the tonic

The B section is in the relative major and not very interesting. Yawn.

Op. 33, No. 2 in D major

This one sounds like a stereotypical waltz. The main theme starts in D in forte, repeats in a pianissimo, then modulates to A in forte, then piannisimo, then back to D. It's very pleasant but not much to say.

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Main theme in D
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Main theme in A

The B section modulates to B♭ with some dotted eighth/sixteenth patterns. Some jazzy chords in the right hand allow for the left hand to take over the melody in some classic V of the V shenanigans of which I am so fond.

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Left-hand takes over the melody while the right hand does jazz hands

An interesting modulation takes place after the first time through the B section, where it throws in a D♭ (B♭ minor instead of B♭ major) and does some classic Chopin trickery to end up in D♭.

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Modulation to B♭ minor

And then there's more modulation! Suddenly we're in F♯ major-ish. I guess that's the enharmonic of G♭, and we ended on a D♭ chord which is the V of G♭/F♯. Sure. This fun modulation transitions to E which is the V of A which is the V of D and we're back to the beginning in classic mazurka style. It was so nice I want to listen to it twice or five times.

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And back to the main theme in D

For the ending we get a Ballade-ish agitato Coda. And then it ends with some more implied V of the V with a scale in the higher registers. Overall a fun little piece, although it's a little repetitive. But such is the mazurka.

Op. 33, No. 3 in C major

The main theme involves an interesting deceptive cadence, where it makes you think you're going to end up in A minor (the relative minor of C) but in fact you end up in A major. This results in the ultra rare V of the V of the V progression to get back to C (A → D → G → C). This is why we all studied the circle of fifths.

For some god-awful reason the performance I'm listening to repeats the main theme even there's definitely no repeat in the score. What a ripoff. This calls for some research.

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Deceptive cadence followed by ¼ of the circle of 5ths

The B section modulates to A♭. It opens with, surprisingly, not a V of the V, but in fact a reverse V of the V. I'm sure this has some kind of name but I'm not going to look it up (I guess it's a plagal close kind of, but it's not closing anything).

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ivI progression to start the key change

Op. 33, No. 4 in B minor

This one also starts off with that ivi progression we just saw in the previous mazurka. That's followe by some interesting right-hand solos in the main theme, along with some fun harmonies with F♯ minor and F♯ major.

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ivi opening
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RH solo and some F♯ minor/major harmonies

The B section gets a little weird with the right hand crossing over the left with some kind of bluegrass reel. I wasn't expecting that.

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A brief bluegrass crossover, pun intended

Then he channels Rachmaninoff from 50 years in the future to get back to the A section.

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6-5-1 in a minor key in Op. 33 No. 4
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6-5-1 to open up Rachmaninoff's famous Prelude in C♯ minor, Op. 3, No. 2

A mildly thunderous C section mimics the Hammerklavier opening and Chopin remembers there are 88 keys on the keyboard. Then basically the whole thing boringly repeats, and it ends with a variation of the main theme in a major key. Just kidding I thought it ended but there are more pages. Eventually the left hand gets a solo for what seems like an eternity before transitioning via some ascending chromatics back to the A section and mercifully ending.

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I bet you thought I wouldn't notate the entire thing

All in all, not that bad, but like many mazurkas, way too repetive, and unlike many mazurkas, this was too long.