Performance of Chopin Waltz

I learnt the Chopin Waltz in F Minor, OP70 No 2, years ago as a boy for my Grade Five exam, but it’s only now that I’ve recorded it and made a video. After having spent a small fortune on my Kemble Grand, there’s no longer any need for me to feel embarrassed about anyone hearing, or seeing, my piano. I chose this piece because it’s not too difficult and sounds pretty good. So I practised it up to a decent standard and then made a recording and video of a performance.

This piece, the middle of a set of three, dates from 1842 and is dedicated to Elise Gavard. Over the years it has been recorded by many of the great pianists, including Rachmaninoff, Lipati and Rubinstein. However, a video performance with plenty of hands can also contribute as one can see how some of the passages are managed. In particular, a bit of hand swapping makes certain figures sit better.

The other images in the video are of the score’s first two pages and Chopin himself, two of which are of him playing, the latter one being in Prince Radziwill’s Palace in Poland. Salon performances for the aristocracy were of course a staple of nineteenth century musical life and, in fact, the Chopin Project says “This Waltz in F minor…steps right out of a Parisian drawing-room.”

Chopin in Radziwill's Salon - Siemiradzki

As usual I used Sonar to record the audio. The main challenge here is that rubato on a DAW makes tempo maps go all over the place. Lining up beats with bar lines can become a self-defeating exercise and isn’t really necessary anyway with a solo instrument.

I won’t go into the technicalities of recording the pictures here, but it’s worth mentioning that after trying various video editors over the last few years, all of which caused various problems with the dreaded blue screen of death, I decided to give LightWorks a go. This is a remarkable application, due to its formidable pedigree and rather odd method of working – and the fact that it’s free! It’s not a typical Windows type drag ‘n’ drop, fairly intuitive, thing at all and I struggled for hours with it. However, there are YouTube tutorials and the basic problems can be solved eventually. The worst thing that happened was closing the timeline and then thinking, with a sinking feeling, that I’d lost it forever. I thought I’d have to start all over again, but I eventually located it, more by chance than design.

If you look carefully, you can see a reflection of Fafner, our white bichon frisé, at 0:56 too. He always likes to listen! You can see him again in my Annie’s Song video.


Filed Under: 2013


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