Four Impromptus

Impromptu No. 1 in A-flat major, Op. 29: The First Impromptu is carefree as a lark. George Du Maurier had poor Trilby sing it under the tutelage of Svengali. Jean Kleczynski wrote, “Here everything totters from the foundation to summit, and everything is, nevertheless, so beautiful and so clear.”

Impromptu No.2 in F-sharp major, Op. 36:
The greatest and most difficult of the Impromptus, it resembles a Chopin Ballade. An elusive work demanding the utmost delicacy in the delivery of the passage work.

Impromptu No.3 in G-flat major, Op. 51:
A little-known piece, with some rather difficult double notes. The theme has a serpentine, even morbid quality. But Huneker declares that “the Impromptu flavor is not missing, and there is allied to delicacy of design a strangeness of sentiment; that strangeness which Poe declared should be a constituent element of all great art.” The improvisatory element must be brought out for a performance to succeed.

Impromptu No.4 in C-sharp minor, Op. 66(posth.),
“Fantaisie-Impromptu”:Countless pianists of all persuasions have attempted the Fantaisie-Impromptu.
It was composed in 1834, and predates the other Impromptus. The opening, in its Bellinian coloratura, is alluring. The trio is a bit too long and mawkish. The coda uses the trio theme in an ingenious manner.

Four Impromptus:

  • CZIFFRA: Connoisseur Society
  • GINZBURG: Melodiya
  • HORSZOW5KI: Vox (CD)
  • PERAHIA: CBS (CD)
  • RUBINSTEIN: RCA (CD)
  • VASARY: DG