Thursday, February 03, 2005

Chopin: Etude in E (performed by Vladimir Horowitz)

An etude is known to be a short composition made for a solo instrument. More importantly it is intended to be an exercise or demonstration of technical virtuosity. In this recording of Chopin's Etude in E Major, Vladimir Horowitz is obviously able to play the piece very well, giving it a feel that it is easy for him to play. Horowitz is one of my favorite pianists and I enjoy his version of the Etude in E because the melody is brought out so well while the accompanying parts are still equally important.
The piece has many different things going on at once. It begins slowly with a melody that may be heard, starting out softly, and then gaining sound as the pitch goes up by step. The bass line plays quietly but is easily noticed to be repeating the same rhythm on differing pitches throughout the first section of the piece. The rest of the accompaniment is also in constant motion and the chords change with the bass line. The end of section "A" uses either a perfect authentic cadence or an imperfect authentic cadence, depending on whether or not you include the grace notes which occur after the final chord. The second section, "B," takes a faster pace which could be described as spirited or playful. Chopin uses a new melody which is played softly and then louder the second time. Then he repeats this melody in a new key. The following portion of section B displays a change in rhythm to a faster chord progression of fully diminished sevenths. Then, to the listeners satisfaction, this same chord progression is played again in a new key. While listening, the rest of section "B" really sounds like an odd assortment of diminished seventh chords and in analyzing, that is what truly occurs. Part of this portion lacks a noticeable melody and then gains a very frantic and random sounding melody before making its amazing shift back to section "A". My favorite portion of the piece is the modulation back to section "A" because it incorporates the accompanying rhythms from the inner voices that could be heard at the beginning of the piece. Section "A" is repeated and ends with a definite perfect authentic cadence. In the beginning this piece sounds fairly simple before switching to the section of stepwise diminished chords. As a etude should, the piece shows great technical ability from the pianist who must perform a number of very different dynamic markings, chords, and moods. I enjoy this piece especially for its bipolar characteristics which make it enjoyable for listening and difficult for playing. Horowitz is always wonderful to hear and performs this piece just as it should be done, showing his superb technical skill.

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