總瀏覽量

2016年8月15日 星期一

Chopin's "Raindrop Prelude" No, 15, Opus 28. (蕭邦之雨點序曲)

Fellow blogger and concert goer Eric Tang recommended that I click into Chopin's "Raindrop Prelude" No.15, Opus 28 in Db major by the contemporary French pianist Hélène Grimaud. So here it is.

The piece is given the name "raindrop" by Van Bülow. It is believed that the piece was written by Chopin in 1838 whilst he was staying at a monastery in Majorca with his then lover, the woman romantic novelist, who was then forced by the customs of the age to write under a male pen name "George Sand". It's one of 24 preludes written by that poet of the piano.





At the time, Chopin's thoughts were probably occupied by death. George Sand reported that when she returned to the monastery with their son, Maurice, after a heavy rainstorm, Chopin said to her,  "Ah! I knew well that you were dead."

She said that Chopin had a dream whilst playing the piano: " He saw himself drowned in a lake. Heavy drops of icy water fell in a regular rhythm on his breast, and when I made him listen to the sound of the drops of water indeed falling in rhythm on the roof, he denied having heard it. He was even angry that I should interpret this in terms of imitative sounds. He protested with all his might – and he was right to – against the childishness of such aural imitations. His genius was filled with the mysterious sounds of nature, but transformed into sublime equivalents in musical thought, and not through slavish imitation of the actual external sounds". Perhaps that's the reason the piece was given the name.


The "regular rhythm" mentioned was the repeated Ab notes.But George Sand is right. Raindrop is but one only of the possible images that the piano sound may evoke. If music were merely "representative" or even "symbolic", it would have become the humble servant of the discursive intellect. Music is music. It doesn't have to "represent" anything but the texture of its own sound, its intensity, its rhythm, its own motion and its pauses and the complex relationship between its various parts and the relationship of its parts to the whole. Whatever the truth may be, there is little doubt that there's a certain darkness, a certain sombreness and a certain slow and heavy plodding resonance in the right hand chords and that the repeated and regular left hand notes do evoke the image of raindrops falling steadily either on the roof or dripping on to the ground, creating little tiny little splashes on the puddles in the process.

But there can be many different interpretations of the piece by different performers. In some, the raindrops seem larger, in some smaller. And one can well imagine how the smaller drops would merge to form larger and larger ones until they fall when they could no longer be contained by the surface tension on the eaves or the underside of whatever it was where they had been collecting.





The one by Evgeny Kissin seems to have moderately large raindrops




The one by Maria Joao Pires seems to have raindrops much lighter and the sense of death, if any, seems much more concealed and the piece sounds more like a quiet, pensive contemplation by Chopin, almost completely free of forebodings of menacing death others say they feel in the piece..




Horowitz's treatment seems to have captured both the poetic flow in the lighter part as well as the much stronger emotions embodied by the piece. So to each his own personal taste.