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I wonder, therefore, about Miss Chang's conclusion to the Berceuse, which is marked pp for eight bars followed by a steady diminuendo over a further seven bars, a dying fall if ever there was one. I remember from long ago a master class given by Alfred Cortot in Siena, at which virtually his only comment to the succcession of young pianists approaching him was 'più piano', followed by a wondrous demonstration of what he meant. Sometimes I wish Miss Chang had been there. She can, though, play with great sensitivity, as in the G minor Ballade, whether with or without thinking of Hamlet [listen -- track 5, 0:34-1:57]. This is the work about which Schumann wrote on 14 September 1836 to Heinrich Dorn, composer of an alternative Nibelungen opera: 'It seems to me his most inspired work (if not the one most filled with genius), and I told him that I liked it best of all his works.' Chopin replied, 'I'm glad you think so; it is my favourite too.' Miss Chang is at her best in such elegiac moods, and the elegant refrain of the Third Ballade suits her equally [listen -- track 7, 1:50-2:52].

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Copyright © 26 November 2003 Robert Anderson, London UK


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