Five essential works by Chopin

We choose the best pieces by the Polish composer

Chopin

Polonaises

Poland’s national dance is a stately affair, but in Chopin’s hands, it become a passionate statement about his home country. Start with the A-major Polonaise.

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Recommended recording:
Maurizio Pollini, Martha Argerich, Anatol Ugorski (piano) DG 477 5430

Etudes

Chopin’s two books of studies test and stretch a player’s advanced technique. But the music contains depth and feeling.

Recommended recording:
Murray Perahia (piano)
Sony SK61885

Waltzes

Singularly unimpressed with the Viennese ballroom scene, Chopin set about composing his own waltzes, published in 1819, which contain abandon, but a certain wistfulness too.

Recommended recording:
Ingrid Fliter (piano)
EMI 698 3512

Piano Concerto No. 1

Composed shortly before he left Poland, Chopin shows his gift for long-arching melodic lines and filigree piano writing. The second movement, in particular, is ravishing.

Recommended recording:
Krystian Zimerman (piano), Polish Festival Orchestra
DG 459 6842

Ballades

Chopin puts his heart and soul into these astonishingly powerful works. Don’t be fooled by the title ‘Ballade’ – all four of them contain music of extreme drama and energy, as well as tenderness and lyricism.

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Recommended recording:
Evgeny Kissin (piano)
RCA 09026632592