Episode 44: Chopin's Unruly Children

Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor, Op. 35:iv

rc-unruly-200“Schumann did say that Chopin didn’t write a sonata, he brought together four of his wildest children. He got the WILD right” - Garrick Ohlsson

The piece in question is Fryderyk Chopin’s Piano Sonata No. 2, one of his most original – and controversial works. Four wildly different movements, including a turbulent opening and the overly familiar Funeral March of a third movement. But pianist Garrick Ohlsson says there was a keen method to Chopin’s keyboard madness:

“Chopin is not only on the cusp of Classicism and Romanticism, but he unleashes the full range of Romantic emotion with Apollonian control. … He’s as cool in his head as Stravinsky sounds when he’s neo-Classic. The music is not cool at all.”

Especially uncool is the LAST movement. According to Ohlsson, “It’s extraordinary, because he’s written the weirdest movement he’s ever written in his whole life..something which really and truly looks to the 20th century and post-romanticism and atonality… It’s very hard to figure out what’s going on. It just sort of mutters and murmurs, it seems directionless. It’s got no theme, it’s got no accompaniment. it’s got no rhythm.” - Jennifer Foster

Radio Chopin Episode 44: Chopin's 'Unruly Children'

Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor, Op. 35: iv