Frédéric Chopin

Mazurkas (5) for piano, Op. 7, CT. 56-59

    Description by Robert Cummings

    The Op. 7 set of mazurkas is the only one containing five pieces; all the composer's other published sets consist of either three or four items each. On the whole, this set represents a step forward from the Op. 6 collection. In fact, when the Op. 7 was published in 1832, it gained Chopin both recognition and notoriety in France for bold and imaginative writing that more tradition-minded ears found revolting. The pieces range in length from about four minutes (the second piece in the set) to half a minute (the final mazurka, in C major).

    The first mazurka in this set, in B flat major and sometimes known as Mazurka No. 5, is probably the best known in the group. Marked Vivace, it is a graceful, lively piece whose elegance and debonair qualities give it a somewhat aristocratic air. But in the latter half of this piece a subdued theme appears that is more earthy, more peasant-like. The main theme returns to close this attractive work.

    The next mazurka, in A minor, has a mournful quality. The usual tempo is slow, despite the Vivo, ma non troppo marking, and the main theme is gentle in its sadness. Many will hear in this piece the composer's longing for his family and Polish homeland, from which he was exiled for political reasons in 1831. The middle section has an air of defiance, but yields to the lovely, forlorn theme from the opening to close the piece.

    The next mazurka, in F minor, begins with an ominous rhythmic idea; it then presents a lively theme whose rhythms are sharp and springy, but portending no threat or menace. The melody is colorful and Slavic in nature, containing the admixture of the peasant-like and exotic that so fascinated Parisians of the day and has lost none of its piquancy over the years. This mazurka bears no textual description but carries a metronome marking of 54 for the dotted half-note.

    The A flat major mazurka, is fast-paced, carrying a marking of Presto, ma non troppo. The main theme is playful and good-natured, mischievous in its clown-like manner. A subdued, pensive middle section evokes a dreamy atmosphere, which is ultimately short-lived as the opening theme returns to close out this one-minute romp.

    The final mazurka in the Op. 7 set, in C major and marked Vivo, is the shortest but in many ways the subtlest. It is a fine example of Chopin's sense of humor, or of what one might call his sense of mischief. In the main it is lively and happy -- or so it seems. The listener quickly becomes aware that the giddy melody cannot get untracked -- it repeats itself again and again, varying quite little. Suddenly the mazurka ends, as though collapsing in the realization that it really had little to say.

    Parts/Movements

    1. No. 5 in B flat major
    2. No. 6 in A minor
    3. No. 7 in F minor
    4. No. 8 in A flat major
    5. No. 9 in C major

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2018 DUX / Dux Records 1419
    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 Cambria CD 1225
    2014 LP Classics 1021A/B
    2014 ATMA Classique ACD 22682
    2014 Divine Art DDA 25123
    2013 Broken Audio BRAU 0941
    2013 Warner Classics
    2012 Zephyr / Zephyr Records Z 13610
    2012 Avie AVR 2262
    2011 RCA Red Seal 886919369120
    2011 Newton Classics 8802076
    2011 Newton Classics 8802038
    2011 Steinway & Sons 30003
    2011 Fryderyk Chopin Institute NIFCCD000020
    2010 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099945533
    2010 Deutsche Grammophon 002894778445
    2010 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099996711
    2010 RCA Red Seal 88697686922
    2010 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099945535
    2010 Decca 4782282
    2010 Fryderyk Chopin Institute 15
    2010 Naïve OP 30494
    2009 Sony BMG / Sony Classical 88697577072
    2009 Dux Records 650
    2009 X5 Music Group 15582
    2008 Bridge 9276
    2008 EMI Classics 5754432
    2008 Brilliant Classics 93217
    2008 Hyperion 44351
    2007 Centaur Records 2098/2099
    2006 Brilliant 99802
    2004 EMI Classics 85767
    2003 Harmonia Mundi 2907352/53
    2003 Forlane 126817
    2003 Aura Classics 0251
    2003 Dorian 93258
    2002 Naïve 20002
    2002 Classica d'Oro 3030
    2002 London 43947
    2001 Rca Red Seal 63027
    2001 Rca Red Seal 63006
    2000 Harmonia Mundi 907247/48
    2000 Arkadia 78590
    1999 Deutsche Grammophon 463 047-2GCE17
    1999 Deutsche Grammophon 463 054-2
    1999 Naxos 501501
    1999 Naxos 554529
    1999 Opus 111 2007
    1999 RCA Red Seal 63000
    1997 Sony Music Distribution 63237
    1997 London 443738
    1996 Concord 42036
    1996 London 448086
    1996 Decca / London 448 086-2DF2
    1995 London
    1994 Philips 442 574-2PM2
    1994 Naxos 550358
    1993 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 0777764933
    1993 Naxos 8505015
    1993 Sony Music Distribution 53246
    1991 RCA Victor GD60822
    London 443947/4
    Opus 111 30287
    Finnadar 91071
    Dux Records 640
    Forlane 16781
    Brilliant 99802/8
    Carriere Classics 17
    EMI Music Distribution 74457
    EMI Music Distribution 74457
    The Piano Library 242
    Arabesque 6730
    Forlane 16729
    London 417584
    RCA Victor 60822