SATURDAY, April 3, 2021 – 11:03 PM
Chopin: Prelude Op. 45 in C# minor, age 31
Chopin wrote a set of 24 very famous preludes, but this one was written much later, close to the end of his rather short life. What is most interesting about this one is that it visits so many different keys, so much so that I’m not sure there is one key he does not use briefly. When something stays entirely within a key, it is diatonic. When something uses more than the seven notes in a key it is at least partially chromatic. So this piece is mostly diatonic at any given moment, but because it modulates so many times it is also highly chromatic. Towards the end there is a cadenza that is made entirely of two chords, moving chromatically, and one of those chords is the dim chord.
I listened to many recordings, but I prefer this above all others, and that’s not an unusual thing. Arrau was a deep thinker, both faithful to scores and yet quietly individualistic, exploring every possibility. I thought about recording this, and I may still do it, but the playing is good here that it seems pointless.
This man was one of the most unusual young pianists we have every heard. I once owned his recordings of all the Chopin preludes. Some of them I liked, some of them I hated, and a few I thought were amazing. This is one of the amazing ones. I don’t quite like his cadenza, which for me is too fast, but that’s a small quibble.