Frédéric Chopin

Mazurkas (4) for piano, Op. 24, CT. 64-67

    Description by Robert Cummings

    By the mid-1830s, Chopin was enjoying success with the publication of his music and had also been widely praised as a performer. These four mazurkas are among his better efforts from that period, and at least the first of them, in G minor, is one of his more popular, not least because of its relative ease of execution and melodic appeal. The four cover a wide range of moods and keyboard colors, their variety supposedly prompting the composer to play them differently every time he performed them. A performance of the group lasts perhaps 12 or 13 minutes.

    That first mazurka, marked Lento, begins with a wistful theme, a typical Chopin creation in its elegance and overtones of sadness and longing. The middle section is brighter and more colorful, but does not quite dispel the overall dark feelings. The main theme returns to reinforce the reflective mood from the opening.

    The second mazurka, in C major, is bright and joyous. Marked Allegro non troppo, it achieves an effective contrast with the preceding item and evokes the mazurka's folk-dance ancestry in its rhythmic vitality and playfulness. The main theme is sprightly and full of life, with the middle section of the same character but divulging a more muscular sound. Some Chopin scholars have heard a certain measure of restlessness or discontent in this piece, focusing on the mixture of church modes and other tonalities in the work, and consequently interpreting them to reflect indecision and uncertainty. In the end, this must be assessed as a fine, light work of bright colors.

    The third mazurka in this collection, the A flat major. is marked Moderato, con anima; its main theme is vaguely reminiscent of that of the G minor mazurka, though the mood here is brighter. Once again, Chopin demonstrates that even when he is generally upbeat, he often cannot resist suggesting a vague longing or feelings of regret. Still, the music is mostly cheerful and elegant throughout. The composer offers an attractive coda to close the piece.

    The last mazurka from Op. 24, in B minor, is the longest, at about five to six minutes, and perhaps the gem of the set. It presents a range of feelings and colors, yet every page is characteristic of the composer in its charm and grace. "Charm," in fact, is the catchall term that best describes this piece. The main theme is fiery, moving from elegance to passion, from appeal to seduction, never seeming to attain the climactic release it seems to augur. The middle section is subdued by comparison but ironically builds to a climax for the reappearance of the main theme. After a return of the opening materials, the piece fades slowly to silence.

    Parts/Movements

    1. No. 14 in G minor
    2. No. 15 in C major
    3. No. 16 in A flat major
    4. No. 17 in B flat minor

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2017 Edition Records EDN 1086
    2017 IBA [Idil Biret Archives] 8501503
    2017 Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler PH 16100
    2017 Erato 0190295869205
    2016 Continuo Classics 116
    2016 Brilliant Classics 95215BR
    2016 Steinway & Sons STNS 30071
    2016 A Life of Music Records
    2015 Andrzej Wiercinski RN 416514
    2014 ATMA Classique ACD 22682
    2013 Broken Audio BRAU 0941
    2013 Warner Classics
    2012 Avie AVR 2262
    2011 RCA Red Seal 886919369120
    2011 Fryderyk Chopin Institute NIFCCD 612
    2011 Newton Classics 8802076
    2011 Newton Classics 8802038
    2011 Fryderyk Chopin Institute NIFCCD602603
    2011 Fidelio / Fidelio Audio FACD 034
    2011 Steinway & Sons 30003
    2010 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099945533
    2010 Deutsche Grammophon 002894778445
    2010 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099996711
    2010 Crystal Classics / Zebralution
    2010 RCA Red Seal 88697686922
    2010 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099945535
    2010 Decca 4782282
    2010 Capriccio Records 7039
    2010 Naïve OP 30494
    2009 Sony BMG / Sony Classical 88697577072
    2009 Dux Records 650
    2008 Bridge 9276
    2008 Divine Art 24129
    2008 Altara Classic 1030
    2008 EMI Classics 5754432
    2008 Brilliant Classics 93217
    2008 Mirare 075
    2008 Hyperion 44351
    2007 Centaur Records 2098/2099
    2006 Brilliant 99802
    2006 Takt 1501/15
    2005 Urtext 100653
    2004 EMI Classics 85767
    2003 Harmonia Mundi 2907352/53
    2003 Forlane 126817
    2003 Aura Classics 0251
    2003 Dorian 93258
    2003 Delta Distribution 40032
    2003 Delta Distribution 40040
    2003 Delta Distribution 16320
    2002 Naïve 20002
    2002 Classica d'Oro 3030
    2002 Delta Distribution 14583
    2001 Rca Red Seal 63027
    2001 Rca Red Seal 63006
    2000 Harmonia Mundi 907247/48
    2000 Centaur Records 2707
    2000 Arkadia 78590
    2000 Laserlight 15813
    2000 Delta Distribution 24487
    1999 Deutsche Grammophon 463 047-2GCE17
    1999 Deutsche Grammophon 463 054-2
    1999 Agora Musica 146
    1999 Naxos 501501
    1999 Naxos 554529
    1999 Opus 111 2007
    1999 BBC Music BBCL4021-2
    1999 RCA Red Seal 63000
    1997 Athene 11
    1997 Sony Music Distribution 63237
    1997 London 443738
    1996 Concord 42036
    1996 Decca / London 448 086-2DF2
    1996 London 448086
    1995 London
    1994 Philips 442 574-2PM2
    1994 Naxos 550358
    1993 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 0777764933
    1993 Naxos 8505015
    1993 Olympia (Classical/Jazz) 193
    1991 RCA Victor GD60822
    1989 Laserlight 15604
    Opus 111 30287
    Finnadar 91071
    Notes 11031
    Historical Performers 13
    Dux Records 643
    Forlane 16789
    Carriere Classics 17
    Brilliant 99802/8
    EMI Music Distribution 74457
    EMI Music Distribution 74457
    The Piano Library 242
    Arabesque 6730
    Zephyr 14010
    Forlane 16729
    Laserlight 35606
    London 417584
    Capriccio Records 7044
    RCA Victor 60822