Chopin - Impromptu no.4 in c# minor, “Fantasie”
In another twist of historic irony, it was a surprise to me to learn that Chopin almost had this work destroyed. This piece which would rise to become one of his more popular works was almost lost to time, if it weren’t for his friend and fellow pianist Julian Fontana. This impromptu was written before his other three, in his mid-twenties, but was published posthumously by Fontana. No one is certain exactly why Chopin didn’t like this piece, but the best and most likely possible reason is that it is very similar to the last movement of Beethoven’s ‘moonlight” sonata. Probably a move to avoid criticism, feeling it was musically weaker than his other works. But when I first listened to the Fantasie-Impromptu, I felt like I’d entered a new world of music. Growing up, I only knew of pop songs that my cousins and friends listened to, I was never a big fan of music. But when I discovered Chopin, I realized there was an entire universe of unheard music waiting for me, and this piece was among the first I’d listened to. The central section is lovely if not repetitive, and the combination of this calm aria with the intense Beethovinian storm that sandwiches the work, the ending simple coda of repeating that melody in the bass while the right hand ornaments above it…it makes me think of the music of the stars.