Work: Etudes (12) for Piano, Op. 10: no 5 in G flat major "Black Keys"
About This Work
The 24 Études of Frédéric Chopin (divided into two separate opuses, 10 and 25, but actually composed almost simultaneously) remain the most significant entries in that particular musical genre. Chopin refers, in a letter dating
from the fall of 1829, to having written a study "in own manner"; indeed, a great chasm stands between his achievements in the genre and the far drier attempts of his predecessors (one thinks of Moscheles, Czerny, and Hummel in particular). It was not Chopin's intent, as it was with many nineteenth century pianist-composers, to create studies of mere technique and raw dexterity; here, instead, are works with an inexhaustible array of textures, moods, and colors to explore. These are works meant for the concert hall as well as for the practice room. The 12 Études published as Chopin's Opus 10 are an indispensable tool of the modern pianist's craft: they are a rite of passage that no serious player can ignore.
Op. 10, No. 5 is the famous "Black key study" in G flat major: the right hand plays only the pentatonic group of pitches found on the black keys of the piano. Chopin himself was not fond of this étude, remarking that it is "the least interesting for those who do not know that it is written for the black keys alone." It has become fashionable among virtuosi to perform the work at lightning-fast tempos; the Étude, however, is not a showpiece by nature, and would be better served if performers instead emphasized its rather coquettish humor.
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