Etudes Op. 25

Twelve Etudes, Op. 25 (1830-34)

Op. 25, No.1 in A-flat major: This is often called the Aeolian Harp. The weak fifth finger encounters a singing melody above a web of melting textures. A work of melodic magic, and one of the less taxing of the Etudes.

Op. 25, No.2 in F minor:

A study in cross-rhythms, requiring delicate finger articulation for its characteristic Chopinesque whisper.

Op. 25, No.3 in F major:
Theodor Kullak tells us that its “kernel lies in the simultaneous application of four different little rhythms to form a single figure.” Ogdon hears it as “a study in the precise rhythmic values of ornaments,” and Friskin wrote, “A light and independent action from the wrist for each beat constitutes an appropriate technique.”

Op. 25, No.4 in A minor:
Ronald Smith says of this study, “A leaping staccato left hand throughout is combined with subtly varied, syncopated right-hand chords.” The left hand is devilishly difficult to attain accuracy in.

Op. 25, No.5 in E minor:

Once called the Wrong Note Etude because of the piquant grace notes. The study demands variations of touch. This is one of the few Etudes with a middle section: a melody in the tenor register with an effective right-hand figuration. The effect is Thalbergian. The little recitativo coda with trills in both hands is the highest level of pianistic imagination.

Op. 25, No.6 in G-sharp minor:
The most hazardous study in thirds in the literature of the instrument. Louis Ehlert concludes, “Chopin not only versifies an exercise in thirds, he transforms it into such a work of art that in studying it one could sooner fancy himself on Parnassus than at a lesson.”

Op. 25, No. 7 in C-sharp minor:
Ronald Smith calls the form “a Sarabande which links the harmonic worlds of Bach and Wagner.” Von Bulow thought of it as a duet for cello and flute. It is a study in touches calling for discreet tonal balance.

Op. 25, No.8 in D-flat major:

An etude in sixths which can be harmful to a small hand if not practiced with care. Von Bullow thought it “the most useful exercise in the whole range of the Etude literature. . . . As a remedy for stiff fingers and preparatory to performing in public, playing it six times through is recommended, even to the most expert pianist.” But I warn, not six times at top speed.

Op. 25, No.9 in G-flat major:
Rather aptly termed the Butterfly Etude. Good wrist octaves and endurance are necessary for the projection of this puckish creation.

Op. 25, No.10 in B minor:
A fierce study in legato octaves in both hands. Frederick Niecks calls it “a real pandemonium.” It is fearsome in its demand for endurance and can tax a small hand. The etude possesses for the sake of both musical and physical relief a middle section in B major of lyrical beauty.

Op. 25, No.11 in A minor:

Known as the Winter Wind. The left hand has a stately marchlike theme; the right hand projects an immense canvas with complex chromaticism. One of the most turbulent of the set, it asks for tremendous hand malleability.

Op. 25, No.12 in C minor:
An etude requiring powerful weight control and balance for arpeggios in both hands. A work of great majesty and starkness, it has often been called the Ocean Etude.

Etudes, Opp. 10 and 25:

  • ANIEVAS: Seraphim
  • ASHKENAZY: Melodiya; London (CD)
  • CORTOT: Dante (CD)
  • FRIEDMAN (four etudes): Pearl (CD)
  • GINZBURG: Melodiya
  • KUERTI (Op. 2S only): Monitor
  • LORTIE: Chandos (CD)
  • SAPERTON: IPA-Desmar (CD)
  • SLOBODYANIK: Melodiya/Angel
  • VERED: Connoisseur Society
  • ZAYAS: Spectrum