Khatia Buniatishvili Plays Chopin: Ballade No. 4 in F Minor, Op. 52

Frédéric Chopin’s Ballade No. 4 in F Minor, Op. 52 inhabits the world of dreams. It unfolds as a hazy musical hallucination, at once melancholy, sensuous, and volcanic. The English pianist John Ogdon called it, “the most exalted, intense and sublimely powerful of all Chopin’s compositions…It is unbelievable that it lasts only twelve minutes, for it contains the experience of a lifetime.”

Composed in Paris in 1842, this was Chopin’s final solo piano Ballade. The single-movement form, with its literary connotations and sense of poetic musical narrative, originated with the Polish virtuoso-composer, and encapsulated the ideals of Romanticism. (In a previous post, we explored all four of Chopin’s Ballades).

The tender opening strains of the Fourth Ballade drift in as music already in progress, but only now audible. The haunting first theme is an obsessively recurring presence, moving restlessly from minor to major, and undergoing modulation. It returns in disguise as a passing ghost (4:09), and as a slithering, hypnotic canon (6:21). As the theme develops, it becomes increasingly passionate and is swept away with frenzied embellishment. The tumultuous coda erupts suddenly and surges towards a fiery and virtuosic conclusion.

This electrifying performance features Georgian pianist Khatia Buniatishvili:


  • Chopin: Ballade No. 4 in F minor, Op. 52, Khatia Buniatishvili Amazon

Featured Image: photograph by Gavin Evans Sony Classical

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.

1 thought on “Khatia Buniatishvili Plays Chopin: Ballade No. 4 in F Minor, Op. 52”

  1. If you are familiar with Ennio Morricone’s score to the film “Once Upon A Time In America”, I’d recommend her recording of Deborah’s Theme. Not volcanic in any way, but the other adjectives come to mind.


Leave a Comment