Barcarolle in F-sharp major, Op. 60 (1845-46)

One of Chopin’s greatest compositions. It has been the despair of many fine artists, being difficult to interpret successfully. It is easy to sound affected, as does Arrau, or nervous, as does Horowitz, or too plain, as did Gieseking. Chopin must have been its ideal interpreter. At his very last Paris recital, in 1848, Charles Halle heard the frail master, who now “played it from the point when it demands the utmost energy, in the opposite way, pianissimo, but with such wonderful nuances that one remained in doubt if this new rendering were not preferable to the accustomed one.”

The Barcarolle displays Chopin’s ornamental genius in full bloom. Ravel wrote, “Chopin was not content merely to revolutionize piano technique. His figurations are inspired. Through his brilliant passages one perceives profound, enchanting harmonies. Always there is the hidden meaning which is translated into poetry of intense despair. . . . The Barcarolle is the synthesis of the expressive and sumptuous art of this great Slav.” Andre’ Gide finds the Barcarolle to express “languor in excessive joy.”

  • ASHKENAZY: London (CD)
  • SOFRONITSKY: Melodiya