Chopin's FuneralBook - 2003
From the critics
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Reviewers reached for celestial imagery to describe the [February 16, 1848 concert]; Chopin's playing, one wrote, "has no equal in our earthly realm." Only his friend Custine grasped the new emotional depths that recent months had granted the composer in exchange for what he had lost: "You have gained in suffering and poetry; the melancholy of your compositions penetrates ever deeper into the heart. Each of us feels alone with you in the midst of the crowd. It's not a piano that you play, but a soul. Take care of yourself for your friends' sake; we need the consolation of listening to you. In the hard times ahead, only an art like yours has the power to unite men otherwise divided by the harsh realities of life. We love and understand each other through Chopin...the man and the artist are one. What else is there to say?"
Composed in the summer of 1844, the Berceuse in D-flat Major surprises us, like happiness itself. Chopin had originally called the piece "Variations" (Variantes) before settling on the more evocative name for lullaby or cradle song, from bercer, to rock. It was the only composition to which Chopin ever gave this title ... Melodic shifts float over the hypnotic rocking ostinato of the left hand; the modulations are as subtly varied, yet as dramatic in texture and shape as those formed by the barest turn of a kaleidoscope whose bits of coloured glass, shivering into patterns, defy us to explain their magic. "Who will open the nightingale's throat," one Chopin scholar asked of the Berceuse, "to discover where the song comes from?"
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