Fryderick Chopin B-flat minor Polonaise

When the genius of Chopin begins to manifest itself? The Trio of this early composition could reveal us something.

When the genius of Chopin begins to manifest itself?

In the month on July, 1826 Chopin, he was 16 years old, writes a b-flat minor Polonaise that belongs entirely to the so called Biedermeier stilistic world. 

The first episode is influenced by the brilliant and whimsical ornamentation of composers such as Dussek, Hummel, Ries, Moscheles, Czerny, that were in vogue around 1820. 

The Trio, namely the central part, is instead built on the Cavatina "Vien fra queste braccia " from the Rossini's opera  La Gazza Ladra

Themes drawn from the Italian operas were common practice at the time and Chopin himself wrote in 1825 another Polonaise, that was lost, in which the theme of the Trio was taken from Rossini's  Il Barbiere di Siviglia

Chopin nevertheless transports the theme from the original tonality of d-major to d-flat major: in this tonality, through the use of all the black keys, the melody acquires a more tender timbric colour, more opaque and languished. 

Without any doubt the transposition was owed to a precise colour choice but we cannot entirely evaluate the sonority willed by Chopin as we have no way of knowing his fingering and pedaling. 

The mechanism of the Viennese pianos, that Chopin knew and used, was very sensible to the touch and the pianist could not only take advantage from the position of the keys in relation to the tonality but also different ways to touch them. 

The sonority thus was different in accordance to the way the key was touched.

The theme of the Trio can be fingered touching the first sound - a-flat, black key - with the thumb or with the forefinger of the right hand. In the first case the structure of the fingering would be identical to the one used if the passage would be written in d-major, in the second case it would be different and the sonority would therefore differ.

It would be a matter of knowing - and it is impossible to know it - if Chopin violated the rule that prohibited the use of thumbs and little fingers on black keys. If he violated the rule, by touching the a-flat with the thumb, he would have adopted a traditional fingering in an heterodox position. But if he did not violate the rule, by touching the a-flat with the forefinger, he could have carried out the all passage with an open hand, and he could have touched the keys not perpendicularly but sliding on them with a longitudinal direction.

In addition he should have laterally widen his middle and forefinger a little further the natural opening, and slightly fluctuate his hand: the sound would have been different, unexpected and individualized. 

Ironically the non violation of the rule would have been more fruitful: it would have been the dawn of a genius! 

In 1826 Chopin had a great model of piano technique: Kalkbrenner. 

In his  Méthode pour apprendere le pianoforte à l'aide du guidemains, published in Paris in 1830, there are both indications of a fingering that violates the rule (thumb on black key) and of a fingering that, without violating it, innovates the way of touching the keys by means of the lateral extension of the long fingers. 

Unfortunately we don't and we can't know which was the solution that Chopin adopted. 

Equally insoluble is the problem of the pedaling, which is not indicated. 

Definitely the resonance pedal was employed in the passage, but the " a una corda" pedal could also have been used... 

Any attempt to philologically and historically reconstruct the sonority of Chopin leads to illusory results, but we can be assured of one thing: Chopin's dynamic was reduced compared to that of the other pianists of his time. 

We don't know how his tonal nature was like , even if we are certain the all the listeners were fascinated for its very original nature.

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