Chopin was acutely sensitive to the sound of pianos. He knew the virtues and flaws of instruments produced by contemporary makers, and so made conscious choices between Pleyel and Érard. His unique music assumed different timbral forms on essentially every piano. In addition, Chopin was renowned for honing his sound to perfection, which was the hallmark of his exceptional playing. A sensitivity to harmonies, colours and timbres is present in all of his works, but perhaps most of all in the ‘well-modulated’ Prelude in C sharp minor, Op. 45 and in the microcosm of twenty-four miniature pieces Op. 28. That is a musical realm without precedence.
Simply... Philharmonic! Project 3:
The search for new means of expression, a sensitivity to nuances of timbre and colour, has fascinated composers of different eras. Yet there are moments in the history of music when that sensitivity comes decidedly to the fore, and the desire to polish nuances reaches a peak. And it might be worth occasionally dwelling on such moments and emphasising them. Ravel and Szymanowski juxtaposing images and mixing colours in their quartets, Beethoven emancipating the sound material of the sonata from its rigid form, Schumann playing with motifs in his Humoreske or Chopin crafting a new space out of miniatures in his Preludes – all sensitive composers who have created new qualities.