AN INSPIRING READ
ANTHONY DAVIE reads Victor Lederer's book
'Chopin: A Listener's Guide to the Master of the Piano'
Mr Lederer's new book on the life and works of Chopin is an excellent piece of work. The book is well planned out, easy to get around and quite simply, an inspiring read! Before the book gets going, Lederer sets out his thanks to an important source -- the famed New York based pianist and teacher, Bernard Rose -- for his valued insights in to the performance of Chopin's work.
Passion and commitment shine out in every sentence of Mr Lederer's book. Chopin's life and music are set alongside the historical, cultural, musical context of his times and Lederer never lets us forget that Chopin's successes were fought against the continuous struggle to contain his tuberculosis.
The first chapter, poignantly named, 'Chopin's Brief Life and Long Death' is a biography of the composer but there's a good deal of valuable thought and comment on the composer and his music which makes for insightful reading.
The following ten chapters of the book are dedicated to each set of works. Each and every one of Chopin's pieces is discussed. Another reason why it earns a place on the bookshelf. Lederer makes many interesting points in these chapters. For instance, he points out that almost all of Chopin's works rarely last longer than twelve minutes and although we don't think of his pieces as miniatures, each one is a satisfying whole. It is the sheer density and richness of musical thought which makes each work a world in itself. Chopin was a master of short form, presenting let's say two ideas in an unconventional way but a complete work nevertheless. Without doubt it is in the Preludes where his musical ideas are compressed to the utmost clarity.
Copyright © 26 November 2007
Anthony Davie, Newcastle UK