Where harmonies shape phrases: Chopin’s Prelude in E minor, Op. 28, No. 4

Chopin’s doleful Prelude in E minor is all about harmonic rhythm and how it influences a relatively simple melodic line. Without a cushion of chords, the melody would be redundant, bare, and without support.

To express a pervasive sadness that permeates this music, the composer ingeniously devised a stream of sonorities in the bass that move in half steps, or “chromatics” in one or more voices. These progressions flesh out a melodic passion that would otherwise be absent.

The challenge is to “feel” and understand how the harmonic flow impacts the melody, and in reverse, how the melodic line intertwines and influences the bass chord underpinning. (Tempo rubato or flexible time is also a pervasive ingredient of interpretation along with the molto cantabile–singing tone)

Relaxed arms and supple wrists are needed to realize the total fabric in the Romantic genre. And thinking of chords in groups, with blurred boundaries created by meandering chromatic movement, helps to express the profound emotions embedded in this composition.

About arioso7: Shirley Kirsten

International piano teacher by Skype, recording artist, composer, piano finder, freelance writer, film maker, story teller: Grad of the NYC HS of Performing Arts, Oberlin Conservatory, NYU (Master of Arts) Studies with Lillian Freundlich and Ena Bronstein; Master classes with Murray Perahia and Oxana Yablonskaya. Studios in BERKELEY and EL CERRITO, California; Member, Music Teachers Assoc. of California, MTAC; Distance learning and Skyped instruction with supplementary videos: SKYPE ID, shirleypiano1 Contact me at: shirley_kirsten@yahoo.com OR http://www.youtube.com/arioso7 or at FACEBOOK: Shirley Smith Kirsten, http://facebook.com /shirley.kirsten TWITTER: http://twitter.com/arioso7 Private fund-raising for non-profits as pianist--Public Speaking re: piano teaching and creative approaches
This entry was posted in Chopin Prelude in E Minor Op. 28 no. 4, chromaticism, classissima, classissima.com, Ffrederic Chopin, Frederic Chopin, Romantic era piano music, Romantic music, tempo rubato and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Where harmonies shape phrases: Chopin’s Prelude in E minor, Op. 28, No. 4

  1. You’re a gem Shirley. That was very compelling!

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