Chopin Piano

Chopin – the “dreamiest?!”

Who can do “Dreamy” better than Chopin? Maybe nobody. Let’s listen!

His Nocturne in B #17. Two versions. One by Garrick Ohlsson, until 1970 the only American to win the International Chopin Competition.  And then a more recent winner of the Competition (2005) – Rafal Blechacz; who was proclaimed so superior to all the other entries that they couldn’t award a second prize! (check out Rafal – a fine young man without much of an Ego! A great “New” breed of pianist)

and a wonderful interview


By Ohlsson


By Blechacz

  • Ben Leet
    May 19, 2011 at 2:23 am

    Hi Jim. I have been playing the Claudio Arrau version lately, he has a two disc collection, I like disc two, the last nocturnes. This piece and all these late nocturnes have a enchantment rarely found. It says Opus 62 for this #17 Nocturne, B Major. Chopin was dying from consumption, living in Majorca, in his late 30s. I’m guessing. I don’t know his life story well. He lived with the woman novelist George Sand. He came to Paris at the end of his life for one last concert and delivered a masterpiece. There is something about death in this piece, sorrow, grief, longing, and exquisite beauty. The reason I like Arrau’s version I believe, I’m guessing again, is that he is older, closer to death. He understands it, senses the grief. It is also amazing how he, Chopin, and all these interpretations draw out single notes. The notes almost expire as they link to the next note, creating a melody that is sadness and joy and beauty, a distillation of those emotions. I am going on a bit, but I’ll include this other observation, I had been listening closely to an amazing piece by McCoy Tyner, jazz pianist, a truly major voice and major presence in modern jazz, and still alive. He just knocked my socks off with an extremely complicated and raucous piece. Then later that evening I listened to the Nocturnes. There was more energy in the quiet nocturnes. Such is the power of Chopin and Arrau. I have to give these two other pianist an big applause also, I liked how they felt the piece. Now, last comment: you can hear the same emotional power in minimal notes with Faure’s Nocturne 11, op. 104. It’s not as beautiful, but it is powerful, quiet, heartrending. That’s my take, at least. Thanks, Jim.