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FRÉDÉRIC CHOPIN (1810 – 1849)    
Barcarolle in F sharp Minor op. 60
Mazurka in F sharp Minor op. 59 No. 3
Nocturne in F sharp Major op. 15 No. 2
Waltz in C sharp Minor op. 64 No. 2
Polonaise in C sharp Minor op. 26 No. 1
Mazurka in C sharp Minor op. 63 No. 3
Prelude in C sharp Minor op. 45
Mazurka in C sharp Minor op. 50 No. 3
Nocturne in C sharp Minor op. 27 No. 1
Mazurka in C sharp Minor op. 41 No. 1
Polonaise in F sharp Minor op. 44
Total Time



Chopin – Piano Works
Eduard Stan, Piano

Label: Thorofon
Catalogue number: CTH 2573
Recorded: 12-15 April 2010
Recording location: Jesus-Christus-Kirche Berlin
Piano: Steinway & Sons D, Hamburg
Programme notes: © Eduard Stan



“Chopin in C sharp and F sharp” could be the unwritten motto of this CD. When choosing the pieces within the aforementioned tonal enclosure, I was guided by the idea of presenting part of Chopin’s huge variety of dances, as well as displaying the contrast between the dancing and the non-dancing forms. My aim is to offer listeners an unbroken and harmonious exploration of Chopin’s music in the style of the many great piano masters, who designed their recitals in such a way that the pieces flowed seamlessly, one after another without a break. The CD is framed by the opening C sharp octave of the Barcarolle and its mighty pendant, the F sharp double octave that concludes the Polonaise op. 44. Of course the works can and should be enjoyed as individual pieces as well, but anyone wishing to experience Chopin’s multifaceted expressive universe, as well as delighting in the motivic links between the compositions, should listen to the CD from beginning to end as an hour-long treat.

The Barcarolle, a magnificent late work of visionary audacity (as exemplified by the coda), is like an apotheosis of sun, warmth, exhilaration and light. The melody makes extensive use of dulcet garlands of thirds and sixths, something to which Liszt later returned in “Venezia e Napoli”. Here the music moves on and in waves, oscillating constantly between crests and troughs. Varying between shorter and more expansive melodic lines, Chopin sustains the lyrical, cantabile character, surging ever more forcefully towards the end until the work concludes with a cascade of sound across the entire keyboard. It is interesting that fifteen years earlier Chopin had already composed a coda for his F sharp major Nocturne op. 15/2 (1831/32), in which the melody descends from the upper register to the depths of the piano in an almost continuous pentatonic pattern. That Nocturne seems to me a miniature version of the Barcarolle; it is in the same key and uses ornamentation that prefigures Chopin’s later embellishment style.

However, it is the C sharp minor Nocturne op. 27/1 that is the real pinnacle of the genre. In contrast to the pallid, almost hypnotically unreal melodic lines of the outer sections (one striking feature of which is a penchant for the special tonal quality of the Phrygian D, which reappears in the Mazurka op. 41/1 and to some extent in the Prélude op. 45), the middle section is dramatic and tremendously unsettling. I imagine this climax as a kind of feverish delirium that, aided by several febrile convulsions, finally reaches the cathartic D flat major theme in the style of a mazurka. In terms of dynamics, it is significant that the middle section of op. 27/1 contains not one but two of only three fff markings found anywhere in Chopin’s Nocturnes. This contrasts with the morbid charm of the C sharp minor Waltz op. 64/2, whose subtle chromaticism exudes a wistful fin de siècle atmosphere.

“Little harmonic labyrinth”, the title of one of Bach’s organ works (BWV 591), is a perfect description of Chopin’s Prélude op. 45. “Prélude-Fantaisie” would also be felicitous, in the manner of his Polonaise-Fantaisie or the Fantaisie-Impromptu. This piano piece is unparalleled in its effect. It sounds like a notated improvisation that ventures through some very remote keys, and it reminds me of Alice in Wonderland. Behind almost every bar, every musical phrase, there is a magic door to another world full of harmonic surprises and deceptive cadences. More than any other Chopin work, this musical supplication allows the performer the greatest freedom of interpretation, especially as the tempo is a matter of individual preference. The Sostenuto is marked “Alla breve” in most editions apart from the Mikuli.

It is well known that Chopin’s dance forms are closely associated with his Polish homeland. Whilst his mazurkas are inspired by the folk traditions of the simple rural population (reflecting the spirit of folk songs but never incorporating them directly in the music), most of his polonaises are epic dramas laden with meaning, their musical form resembling a bow to the proud Polish aristocracy. Although not overtly programmatic, they evoke the heroic struggle for the freedom of the motherland. If the heroic element is still overshadowed by lyrical intensity in the Polonaise op. 26/1, it comes as something as a shock in the Polonaise op. 44, a work of spartan rigour and raw musical material. Described as “more of a fantaisie” by Chopin in a letter to his friend Fontana, this freely constructed drama wrestles, writhes and rages tenaciously; at its heart is an expansive, cantabile mazurka masterfully woven by the composer. The recapitulation to the polonaise theme is a highly dramatic moment that catches the listener by surprise.

I have loved Chopin since my earliest youth. What is more, I owe my deeper devotion to music, which ultimately became my vocation, to my study of several mazurkas shortly after I moved to Germany. I was profoundly moved and inspired by the fact that the recording sessions for this CD took place only six weeks after Chopin’s bicentenary on 1 March 2010 and began just two days after Poland’s second Katyn tragedy on 10 April 2010. In the days after the plane crash in Smolensk, Russia, in which so many members of Poland’s elite lost their lives, my solidarity with the Polish people led to a deep, silent sympathy that intuitively influenced my interpretation of the Prélude op. 45. I felt like calling out to this historically marked nation in the spirit of “Poland is not yet lost”, the emotion of which is ingrained more deeply in the tragic Polonaise op. 44 than in almost any other work by Chopin.

There was nevertheless a happy coincidence between this genius tempori and the genius loci because the Jesus Christ Church in Berlin – with its wonderful, much lauded acoustic that allows the piano to “sing” – proved to be the ideal venue in which to record Chopin’s music. The knowledge that this acoustic jewel was discovered by Furtwängler and used intensively by Karajan provided an extra stimulus for my musical imagination. I would like to thank Johannes Kammann and his recording team for their extremely harmonious collaboration, and also Gerd Finkenstein, who tended his magnificent Steinway D with the touch of a true master. As a Christian, I found the name of the church and its panelled wooden ceilings soaring heavenwards to be deeply symbolic and a wonderful source of energy.

For the works on this recording I chose the Paderewski editions, allowing myself the liberty of small, meaningful borrowings from German and French editions as well as from Mikuli. I have always been impressed by the art of Artur Rubinstein, Krystian Zimerman and Ivan Moravec, three great Chopin masters. It would never have been possible to make these recordings – with their symbiosis of concert grand, recording venue and recording team of my choice – without the generous support of Köttermann Systemlabor and managing director Ralf Waldau, a good friend who has followed my musical development with interest since my young days. For me, his devotion to this project has been a gift from God.

© Eduard Stan




“At first glance, Eduard Stan’s compilation appears like an effective hotchpotch of popular Chopin works. Nevertheless, all the Mazurkas, Polonaises and Nocturnes which Stan combines with the Barcarolle op. 60, a Prélude and a Waltz, are in C sharp or F sharp tonality. Thus, the Romanian pianist, who also drew up a highly personal and knowledgeable text to this recording, is pointing out the different worlds which Chopin was able to evolve from common tonalities.

It is not just the piano pieces that are exquisite, but also Stan’s beautifully balanced piano playing, which is characterized by delicate elegance and sensitive emotionality.”

Frank Siebert, December 2010
FONO FORUM - Germany

(rated as excellent: 4 stars)

The pianist Eduard Stan and his tribute to Poland

"Only very seldom in the recent past I came across a CD recorded under such clear sign of inspiration, rather belonging to the spirit of past piano masters. This is the case with the latest CD of Eduard Stan, released in Germany for the Thorofon label: “Chopin – Piano Works”. A recording that I recommend with no reservation... He is a fine intellectual performer, with a reflecting but also well justified musical interpretation, at times reminding me of some of the best moments of a great musician such as Wilhelm Kempff."

Victor Eskenasy, 8 October 2010

For Epicures

“Chopin programmes can be built up either in a contrasting or homogenous way. Eduard Stan loves it homogenously. He does not try to show off with a great virtuoso gesture, but with works of rather restrained character, at least until reaching the Polonaise op. 44 which brilliantly ends the programme. The rest are just elements of Chopin’s incomparable art of sublimating emotions, of presenting them within a perfect form and elegance.

Eduard Stan loves this music, and he is capable of voicing it in a completely natural but always highly sensitive way, on the basis of an excitingly beautiful piano sound. Stan’s Chopin on this CD is soft and romantic, mostly inspiring of dream and enjoyment.”

Norbert Tischer, November 2010
PIZZICATO - Luxemburg

“Eduard Stan performs his Chopin with a marvellously balanced sound, deep poetry as well as an impeccable technique. His awareness of sound is particularly noticeable in the Chopin playing, where he does not rely on streamlined brilliance, but rather on the warmth and beauty of piano tones. Thus, he succeeds in approaching Chopin more than many a high performance sportsman of the keyboard.

Eduard Stan brings to the fore the lyrical aspects of Chopin as is rarely heard – a strong statement for the Polish piano poet.”

Wilfried Schäper, 9 December 2010

Almost in the character of an endless melody – Eduard Stan plays Chopin with much subtlety and delicacy

“The attention paid to nature, painting, literature, fine arts and the Bible forms an essential source of inspiration for pianist Eduard Stan. Already known as a fine Chopin interpreter, the Hamelin pianist presents a CD at the end of this Chopin year, containing works of this composer whose bicentennial has been celebrated...

One might speculate about why seven of the eleven recorded works are in the C sharp minor tonality, framed by four pieces based on an F sharp keynote, a close relative representing the subdominant. In fact, such a constellation leads to almost endless melody, inspired by a perfect pianism as well as much subtlety and delicacy.”

Karla Langehein, 6 November 2010
DEWEZET - Germany


Chopin – Piano Works
Eduard Stan, Piano