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  • Print publication year: 1997
  • Online publication date: December 2009

4 - Re-evaluation


Principles and premises

Music thrives on a tension between its elemental temporal progression and the structural frameworks that lend it shape and coherence. It was observed in Chapter 3 that the opposed yet interdependent elements creating this tension have variously attracted the attention of scholars and listeners over the ages: at times music's diachronic, ‘narrative’ flow has been privileged in critical writing, at others its synchronic, synoptic organisation, while recently a more reconciliatory approach has been taken in the literature. The symbiotic relationship between narrative and architecture – one continually and necessarily exploited by performers – is what will guide the analytical re-evaluation of Chopin's concertos to follow here. I shall first define each movement's skeletal structure, identifying important ‘stabilizing’ features such as tonal scheme and sectional form, and then in tracing through the music I shall observe temporally defined processes like the generation and relaxation of momentum, rhythmic flux, and small- and large-scale gestural impulse, all of which help to transform the structural bedrock into a living musical statement. In this way, an understanding will be gained of the continual give-and-take between the music's underlying foundation and its unfolding progression, between all-embracing structures and the here-and-now. The theories of Schenker and others will be invoked as required along the way, and the particularly ‘vital’ responses to the concertos of Fink, Stoepel, Lenz, Merkel and Kretschmar used as points of departure in an attempt to resuscitate works that make sense not as inanimate objects but only when brought to life in sound.

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Chopin: The Piano Concertos
  • Online ISBN: 9780511611636
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