Listening Log – [Pt. II- Proj. 3]- Chopin’s Nocturne Op. 9 No. 3 in B major.


Frédéric Chopin’s Nocturne Op. 9 No. 3 in B major (1830 and 1832). Listened in Sep, Oct, Nov 2019 to youtube recording clips embedded below.

Frédéric Chopin (Polish composer and virtuoso pianist 1810- 1849).

Chopin’s ‘Nocturne Op. 9 No. 3 in B major’ (1830 – 1832). Comparison between 5 different pianists and decades.

Arthur Rubenstein’s 1999 recording seems to stick very close to the score and student accounts of Chopin’s own playing style, with Rubato sparingly used and without losing steady time keeping in the left hand. Even the last two bars marked ‘senza tempo’ are controlled. His lightness of touch and delicate, yet very clear, distinction of notes and phrases made it the perfect baseline performance.

Anna Fedorova’s 2010 performance has a far more pronounced Rubato and her phrases are less playful, but more lyrical. Her ‘espressivo’ is more expressive, but the notes are much more blurred. Dynamically her ‘forte’ is also substantially louder whereas her piano is not as soft as Rubenstein’s.

Sviatoslav Richter’s 1976 performance has a much faster interpretation of the Allegretto tempo. Rushing the introduction to reach the slower dotted notes. The variations in tempo are far more extreme with a ‘stop/start’ feel. Overpowering crescendos and forte, but softer sections not nearly as sensitive. A very blustery and ‘macho’ performance.

Eliane Rodrigues’ performance is nimble, with clearly articulated note runs, but with more extreme use of the pedal letting the notes resonate and sustain longer. It’s overall a more fluid and melodic performance (could this be seen as a Latin sensibility?) but feels formulaic in places.

Vladimir Ashkenazy’s 1983 live recording opens with delicate wavelike phrases. The mood is melancholy – a departure from the score’s ‘playful’ marking. The pathos and tragic undertones of this performance makes it stand out. I’m not sure it is what Chopin intended, but it makes for a very intense, enjoyable listening experience.

(6.43 min. in)

I enjoyed Ashkenazy’s recording the most although I am not convinced of its authenticity. I liked and could relate to Fedorova’s choices, perhaps because we are of the same gender and era. I also admire the beauty of Rubenstein’s delicate performance.