In this series of History through the Piano John Drummond looks at famous pieces of piano music as windows into the world in which they were created. A composer cannot help but reflect the world he lives in, his understanding of life, his values and his beliefs.
This episode features two Romantic works. They are both night-pieces: Chopin’s Nocturne in E flat Op 9 No 2 and Liszt’s Liebestraum No 3 in A flat, each piece composed by a virtuoso pianist who knew how to work with the exciting sonorities of the latest developments in piano technology.
These two night pieces show us that composers and listeners in the nineteenth century valued music for its ability to engage our inner selves. In both of them, music stimulates our imaginations to engage with what Keats called ‘the holiness of the heart’s affections’. This isn’t a music of ideas, but a music of feelings. In the Chopin Nocturne night falls and we lose our sense of time and space, being carried along on a stream of melody which draws us to itself. In the Liszt Liebestraum the musical sounds expand to fill and transform our sense of what is possible.
CHOPIN: Nocturne in E flat Op 9 No 2 - Pascal Amoyel - Calliope CAL 93512
LISZT: O lieb so lang du lieben kannst - Diana Damrau & Helmut Deutsch - Virgin 0 709 28
LISZT: Liebestraum No 3 - Jean-Yves Thibaudet - Dal Segno DSPRCD 061