This was the second of the four rondos that Chopin wrote, coming during his student years at the Warsaw Conservatory. Whether he attached significance to the number four is not clear, but the fact he stopped writing rondos after 1832 and turned out exactly four scherzos, four ballades and four impromptus makes one wonder. This Rondo à la Mazur(ka) is similar in spirit to the Op. 1 Rondo, but is subtler in its manner, for, while one may notice derivative traces here and there, the music has almost arrived at the composer's mature style now.
The Rondo à la Mazur is one of the composer's earlier examples of adapting Polish folk music styles to the keyboard. In a sense, it is often hard to discern these folk elements in Chopin's music since his style became so inextricably identified with the sounds of his homeland. Indeed, some of his mazurkas and polonaises could often be taken as folk music adaptations but they typically involved original thematic and harmonic ideas used within Polish dance forms. This Op. 5 Rondo is graceful and somewhat exotic in its lively main theme, which is supported by a colorful mazurka rhythm. A second theme, in B flat, marked tranquillamente e cantabile, provides splendid contrast with its dreamy yet playful melody. Further key changes mark the reappearance of the main thematic material, and the music's variety holds the listener's interest until the brilliant ending. Even though it is not a major masterpiece, this sparkling Rondo still deserves greater attention than it has received over the years.