Maria João Pires and the Poetry of Chopin

There’s a really interesting moment at the end of the middle section (più lento) of Frédéric Chopin’s Nocturne, Op. 48, No. 2 when the music stops. Throughout this section (which begins around the 2:40 mark), a recitative-like conversation between two contrasting voices has been unfolding. “A tyrant commands, and the other asks for mercy” is how Chopin described it. But then, with one haunting, heart-stopping chord (You’ll hear it at 5:02 in the clip below), all of the swagger of this section disappears. For a moment, time seems frozen and there seems to be no way forward. Then, miraculously we find ourselves back in the “A” section…the music we heard at the beginning of the piece. It takes a few seconds before we realize we’ve returned.

Written in 1841, Chopin’s Op. 48, No. 2 occupies a hazy, surreal world somewhere between lamenting melancholy and sunshine. Its expansive, passionate melody is filled with restless striving. In the colorful final bars, the music finds a lasting, sunny repose.

Here is Maria João Pires’ spectacular 1996 Deutsche Grammophon recording of Chopin’s Nocturne No. 14 in F-sharp minor, Op. 48, No. 2:

Before everything else, Chopin is a poet. It’s very inner music and very deep. I don’t feel at all it’s for show. Chopin is the deep poet of music. But he also invented this terrible thing called piano recitals. That made me suffer all my life.

-Maria João Pires

Additional Recordings

About Timothy Judd

A native of Upstate New York, Timothy Judd has been a member of the Richmond Symphony violin section since 2001. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where he earned the degrees Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, studying with world renowned Ukrainian-American violinist Oleh Krysa.

The son of public school music educators, Timothy Judd began violin lessons at the age of four through Eastman’s Community Education Division. He was a student of Anastasia Jempelis, one of the earliest champions of the Suzuki method in the United States.

A passionate teacher, Mr. Judd has maintained a private violin studio in the Richmond area since 2002 and has been active coaching chamber music and numerous youth orchestra sectionals.

In his free time, Timothy Judd enjoys working out with Richmond’s popular SEAL Team Physical Training program.

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