by guest writer Julie Berridge
On November 10, Peter Jablonski features in his performance, musical expressions of nationalism and culture: Mazurkas and a polonaise from Poland, and Mexican folk songs.
The polonaise is one of the five historic national dances of Poland. It started as a peasant dance and then later gained popularity with the nobility and townspeople. Chopin’s Polonaise Opus 25 No. 1 is often thought to be an expression of the love for his country Poland, and in his later polonaises, what has been interpreted as anger over the political fate of Poland, is a prominently heard. Robert Schumann referred to Chopin’s polonaises as “cannons buried in flowers”.
The mazurka is another historic national dance of Poland and Jablonski performs mazurkas from Chopin and Szymanowski. Chopin lived from 1810 to 1849 and Szymanowski, from 1882 to 1937. Szymanowski continued the nationalism in the twentieth century that Chopin had given musical expression to in the 19th century. Syzmanowski‘s mazurkas were directly influenced by Polish Highland folk music. Of the highlands, Syzmanowski wrote, “My discovery of the essential beauty of Goral (Polish Highlander) music, dance and architecture is a very personal one; much of this beauty I have absorbed into my innermost soul”
Aaron Copland based El Salon Mexico on four Mexican folk songs that he had obtained while visiting Mexico in 1932: “El palo verde,” “La Jesusita,” “El mosco,” and “El malacate.” Copland quickly developed an affinity with its culture. Of El Salon Mexico, Copland noted “From the beginning it was associated in my mind with a dance hall in Mexico City called Salon Mexico, a real ‘hot spot’ where one somehow felt a close contact with the Mexican people…Bands played a kind of music that was harsh, flavorsome, screechy and potentially violent. El Salon Mexico is, I suppose, a sort of musical souvenir.” Composed originally as an orchestral piece, Bernstein later arranged it for solo piano and then for two pianos.
Jablonski also plays Grieg, Rachmaninoff and Scriabin
Grieg’s Ballade in G Minor followed the death of his parents and young daughter. In the Ballade can be heard angry and melancholy moments as well as moments of grandeur and beauty. Grieg said that it was written “with my life’s blood in days of sorrow and despair.”
Rachmaninoff never elaborated on what inspired his Études tableaux. Instead, he said that he wanted listeners and performers to “paint for themselves what it most suggests”.
Scriabin and a nocturne born of necessity – In the summer of 1891, Scriabin was unable to use his right hand. So he composed Nocturne for the Left Hand which became a huge hit in America, after his New York publisher reprinted and sold thousands of copies of the piece.
Join us on Tuesday to hear Peter Jablonski perform the pieces above! http://music-toronto.com/