The twenty-four Études of Frédéric Chopin (divided into two separate opuses, 10 and 25, but actually composed almost simultaneously) remain the most significant entries in that particular musical genre. Chopin refers, in a letter dating from the fall of 1829, to having written a study "in [his] own manner," and indeed, a great chasm stands between his achievements and the far drier études of his predecessors (one thinks of Moscheles, Czerny, and Hummel in particular). It was not Chopin's intent, as it was with many nineteenth-century pianist-composers, to create studies of mere technique and raw dexterity; here, instead, are works with an inexhaustible array of textures, moods, and colors to explore. These are works meant for the concert hall as well as for the practice room. The twelve Études published as Chopin's Opus 10 are an indispensable tool of the modern pianist's craft: they are a rite of passage that no serious pianist can ignore.
The performer's two hands must join forces to execute the continuous harp-like (or perhaps guitar-like) arpeggiations that run throughout the Étude in E flat major, Op.10, No.11. A plaintive melody rests atop this buoyant, allegretto foundation. Gentle chromatic fluctuations bring this almost other-worldly incarnation to a close.