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26 Preludes

Lydia Jardon, piano

24 Preludes op. 28
Prelude opus 45 in C sharp minor
Prelude without opus in A flat major

Recorded on 7 and 8 Avril 1998

AR RE-SE 2001-2

The Preludes by Chopin (1836-1839)

"I confess I do not really understand the title Chopin chose to give these short pieces: Preludes, Preludes to what?", wondered André Gide in his famous Notes on Chopin. The author of Preludes was certainly not the first to ask this question. Chopin has at all times exerted a singular fascination on the thoughts and the pen of writers. But it is not certain that rational questions on this subject should expect orderly answers. After all, a title is just a title, an indication, a direction, a symbol rather than a literal definition. "This is not a pipe", Magritte established this conclusively.

So, therefore, the Preludes, these twenty-four purest of pieces by this composer, rightly described by Wanda Landowska as "a Couperin tinged with romanticism". Concise in their outline, vehement in their emotion, the Preludes open on to themselves alone, moments of extreme intensity, brief snapshots of a stale of mind. Why look for another explanation? After all, what else is romanticism but the accepted exaltation of vital, exemplary emotion, both universal and eternal?

One of the characteristics of the Preludes is that they have given rise to all sorts of digressions, one of their most illustrious interpreters going so far as to invest each of them with a title. Clearly a useless exercise. Nobody will deny that Chopin completed the majority of these pieces in Majorca, during one of the frequent passionate interludes in his love life, and that this emotional turbulence affected the composer. But the strength of Chopin's opposition to the very concept of figurative music should prevent us from detecting in these pages the influence of the sinister Charterhouse at Valdemosa where lie stayed with George Sand, who in this connection wrote: "He protested with all his strength against the puerility of these imitations in sound".

Music for its own sake, homage to Bach's Well-tempered Clavier, a source of nourishment for Chopin, statements presented as etudes or nocturnes, as berceuses or mazurkas, as varied in length as daydreams, thirty seconds or four minutes. Gide might speak of their "frightening depth" but Schumann's expert ear noted that the composer had given of himself as never before, "recognizable even in the pauses and the silences". And the opinion of Liszt: "Admirable in their diversity, the work and scholarship which has gone into them can only be appreciated by painstaking examination. Everything seems fresh, flowing, a sudden inspiration".

Are the Preludes ruled by a sign of water? It appears that Chopin dreamed of raindrops in the Balearics gradually engulfing him. Hence, perhaps, this fluid outpouring, this lingering resonance. Nevertheless, the freedom of their composition enables one to adopt them unhesitatingly, without commentary. They also belong to those who travel light.

Olivier Barrot
Translation: Mirella Lamolie

The Press covers it !

« These Preludes express a strong personality... Each testifies to very careful work on detail, a clear sense of shape and line and a musical conception that is both warm and lively: the unisson of the 1st, the concealed voice of the 14th, the fifths in the central section of the 15th, the knell in the 17th, are details not open to misinterpretation...
... With her exquisite style Lydia Jardon always holds the attention, and amply avoids that unforgivable hazard for Chopin: indifference. »

Décembre 98, Étienne Moreau