Chopin's Mazurkas - Part 7

This article is part 38 of 52 in the 2022 music project series.
This article is part 7 of 9 in the Reviewing Chopin's mazurkas series.
Contents hide

I was planning to cover the guitar solo from Days of the New's Touch, Peel and Stand, but I'm in the process of migrating my recording computer to a more powerful laptop, and also switching from Xubuntu to Ubuntu Studio, and it has not gone as swimmingly as I had hoped. So most of this week was spent debugging Ardour crashes and buying USB hubs with a power supply.

So I'm going to do what I always do in these situations: give up and listen to more mazurkas. Luckily there are only three in Opus 50, so I can smash through them in the next 24 hours and not feel like a loser for missing a week.

Trois Mazurkas

For à Mr. Léon Szmitkowski.

Op. 50, No. 1 in G major

Some interesting passing tones in the A section here. Very minuet-like.

38-chopin-mazurkas-op50-no1-passing-tone-1.png (image/png, 306x133, 3,509 bytes)
Passing tones in the left hand
38-chopin-mazurkas-op50-no1-passing-tone-2.png (image/png, 631x146, 5,914 bytes)
A passing tone stands and ends this phrase

After repeating the A/B sections twice there's a very abrupt modulation to C minor as the left hand takes over the melody.

38-chopin-mazurkas-op50-no1-abrupt-cminor.png (image/png, 599x147, 5,364 bytes)
Not-so-subtle modulation to C minor

Some kind of neat diminished triads lead into the Coda involving the iv (C minor). Like a Picardy third variation. I'm sure there's a music theory name for it.

38-chopin-mazurkas-op50-no1-dim-triad-coda.png (image/png, 793x208, 10,052 bytes)
Diminished triads resolve to D which is the V of G which is the V of C minor

Op. 50, No. 2 in A♭ major

A slow and subtle lead in reminded me of the intro to Chopin's 3rd Ballade. But there aren't really any similarities beyond starting on the same note in the same key.

38-chopin-mazurkas-op50-no2-intro.png (image/png, 454x161, 4,778 bytes)
Intro to Op. 50, No. 2
38-chopin-mazurkas-op50-no2-intro-ballade.png (image/png, 287x139, 3,847 bytes)
Intro to Ballade No. 3 in A-flat Major

This mazurka strikes me as kind of a cross between a Waltz and a Nocturne. It's got the Waltz meter and rhythm but it's kind of melancholy, like many of his nocturnes. And then it modulates to D♭ and now it's a Polonaise. And of course it just repeats for a while, in case you forgot it was actually a mazurka.

38-chopin-mazurkas-op50-no2-polonaise.png (image/png, 661x141, 7,312 bytes)
A quick polonaise-like diversion in D♭

This was very pleasant and nice, and actually looks like it might be fun to play.

Op. 50, No. 3 in C♯ minor

I really like the intro on this piece. Kind of a call-and-response between left- and right- hands, featuring my favorite V of the V stuff, of course. And then it ruins it by just blindly repeating.

38-chopin-mazurkas-op50-no3-intro.png (image/png, 592x148, 6,309 bytes)
Intro/main theme of Op. 50, No. 3

Then comes some Polonaise-like pounding on the keyboard, which is followed up with some truly beautiful left-hand phrasing.

38-chopin-mazurkas-op50-no3-lh-phrases.png (image/png, 788x152, 8,115 bytes)
Very nice left-hand phrases with lots of accidentals

The C section modulates to the V in B major. This section ends with a nice transition to G♯ which leads back to the intro/A section motif in C♯ minor. This intro motif is expanded into what appears to be a four-voice fugue. It sounds very cool. Probably hard to play, though.

38-chopin-mazurkas-op50-no3-bmajor-to-intro.png (image/png, 799x151, 8,395 bytes)
C section in B major leads back to C♯ minor
38-chopin-mazurkas-op50-no3-intro-fugue.png (image/png, 603x145, 6,566 bytes)
Suddenly a four-voice fugue

Some interesting ascending chord pregressions in the D section (or whatever). Rachmaninoniff basically ripped off this chromatic technique in every one of his concertos.

38-chopin-mazurkas-op50-no3-chromatics-coda.png (image/png, 781x321, 15,213 bytes)
Rachmaninoff clearly used this chromatic part as inspiration for everything he ever wrote