Chopin - In Our Day and His
Chopin created a radically new musical language for the piano that was nevertheless strongly influenced by his love of the contemporary folk music from his native country that he was exiled from for the greater part of his creative life, Poland. The unique flavour of his expression was intimately connected to the longing he felt for a world that was vastly different in make-up and feeling from anywhere today, but the power and appeal of his compositions have long outlasted the demise of their environmental origins. However, for the pianist and pedagogue Elisabeth Sombart, the founder of the specialized educational school organized by the Fondation Résonnance, this very survival of Chopin and his particular popularity today presents a great challenge for the performer who lives in such a dissimilar ambience from the far more intimate atmosphere that Chopin evoked.
Whereas of course the worlds of all the great 19th Century composers were completely different from life as it is today, for Madame Sombart the changed situation brings especially critical issues for the understanding and interpretation of Chopin’s music, which is why after a lifetime of the study of Chopin she has decided to make new recordings here and now of the composer’s works. In this two hour documentary, she discusses the interpretation of Chopin in our own day and in his day by investigating how Chopin is approached, felt and considered today, how the situation was in his own time, and also how it was in between these nearly two centuries of time apart, that is how Chopin was performed in the early part of the 20th Century by great pianists such as Ignacy Paderewski, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Ignaz Friedman and Alfred Cortot. The documentary also quotes from letters of Chopin and written comments that were produced by some of his pupils who revealed his meticulous instructions about style, sound and technique when they studied his works with him. Nevertheless, this feature is not at all an attempt to condition today’s performers and today’s audiences and listeners into an imaginary ideal environment for experiencing Chopin’s music – on the contrary it is a consideration of the many-sided challenges that musicians and audiences of our time have as they approach this composer’s art in our own day and age.