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Chopin Preludes

Stephen Johnson is joined by pianists Llyr Williams and Benjamin Frith to examine the history and musical ideas behind Chopin's cycle of Preludes.

Stephen Johnson with pianists Llyr Williams and Benjamin Frith, examine the history and musical ideas behind Chopin's cycle of Preludes.

Chopin composed his celebrated set of Preludes Opus 28, while staying in Majorca with his lover, the novelist George Sand. One of his inspirations for the set was the keyboard music of JS Bach, especially Bach's celebrated cycle of Preludes and Fugues - the "48".

In this programme Stephen Johnson examines the ideas behind Chopin's Preludes. Unlike Bach's prices, these are not a prelude to anything in particular, so what did Chopin mean by the title? Did the composer intend the cycle for performance or are they didactic pieces, intended to explore different aspects of pianisim? Should the cycle be regarded as one whole or treated as an anthology? Stephen is assisted in his exploration by the pianist Lyr Williams, who also performs the Preludes. The programme was recorded before an audience at the Turner Sims Concert Hall in Southampton.

In addition to the Opus 28 Preludes, Stephen Johnson also examines the three other pieces for piano which Chopin called Prelude. With the pianist Benjamin Frith, he takes apart the Prelude in C sharp minor Op45. A work that is sometimes called the 25th Prelude.Through meticulous examination of the piece, Stephen offers an insight into Chopin's compositional world, examining his romantic style; his harmonic and melodic invention; and his imaginative exploitation of musical form.

1 hour, 30 minutes


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