The Beauty of French Thinking

December 28, 2020 |

Stefan Jovanovich writes: 

Somewhere in digital maw is an earlier email of mine to the List with a copy of the wonderful cartoon that appeared recently in France.  It has the 3 wise men visiting Joseph, Mary, and the baby Jesus and the animals in the manger.  Each wise man is carrying a syringe.  The caption reads (apologies for my hopelessly bad non-existent French): "We'll try it first on the donkey and then see what happens."  The expression on the donkey's face is priceless.

As a perfect antidote to the varieties of idiocy out there, I recommend Brigitte Engerer's extraordinary performance of Chopin's Nocturnes.  She was perfection and someone who knew herself.

"I need the transparency of the French piano — and, more important, the rationality of French philosophy. But I needed some of the Russian craziness in my playing. I still do."

 Adam Grimes writes: 

I've always loved her interpretation of the Nocturnes. If memory serves, she had a very impressive recording of the Mussorgsky Pictures, too. 

If you want to explore some more esoteric Chopin, see if you can find the Mazurkas as recorded by Andrzej Wasowski. If you know these pieces, you'll find his ideas challenging, to put it kindly… but there's a very good chance he's on the right track. (Basically, the beats tend to be unequal, leaning toward the uneven meters we find later in Bartok and others… it certainly makes sense that a Polish folk dance might have had (should probably read "very likely did have") some of the same characteristics that we associate with Romanian and Bulgarian folk music.)  

I'm not sure if you can find his recordings on YouTube, but it's worth tracking down a CD if you have to.





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