The Barcarolle in F sharp major, Op.60 seems to spring so naturally from the D-flat major close of the Berceuse that it is difficult to comprehend the vast gulf between the two – namely the magnificent Sonata No. 3 in B minor, Op. 58 and the set of three Mazurkas Op. 59. The barcarolle is an instrumental or vocal work imitative of a Venetian gondolier’s song in 6/8 time (Chopin employs the broader 12/8 signature), usually with a double-stranded melodic line above a lilting accompaniment, suggestive of the gentle rocking of the boat. Mendelssohn and Fauré included several barcarolles among their compositions, but Chopin’s single example is by the far the most famous. Although Chopin never visited Venice, he would have been very familiar with the operatic barcarolles by Rossini and Auber. Under the guise of the barcarolle idiom and the radiance of the Mediterranean, we find one of his most mature compositions, with exceptional structural cohesion, pianistic refinement and harmonic inventiveness. Written between 1845 and ‘46, when his relationship with his mistress George Sand was becoming heavily strained and his health was in rapid decline, the work also carries a distinctly Autumnal, wistful tone. The various sections of the composition are marked by different forms of undulating left hand waves, over which the melody sings, soars, shimmers and glistens. Before the final reprise of the opening melody there is a remarkable moment of complete stasis where the left hand abandons its paddling motion altogether. Marked dolce sfogato, the music relishes its hazy reverie, and attention seems given almost entirely to the fresh, fragrant air, rather than the gentle lapping water.
Frédéric Chopin: Barcarolle in F sharp major, Op.60
Recorded in Turner Sims Concert Hall, University of Southampton, UK on 16th-18th December 2017
Piano: Steinway & Sons
Front Cover Photograph: Kaupo Kikkas
Booklet design: Hannah Whale, Fruition Creative Concepts
Recording Engineers: Mark Hartt-Palmer & John Balsdon
Recording Production: John Balsdon & Mark Hartt-Palmer
Total Time: 64.45
Release Date: May 2018
British pianist Ashley Fripp has performed extensively as recitalist, chamber musician and concerto soloist throughout Europe, Asia, North America, Africa and Australia in many of the world’s most prestigious concert halls. Highlights include the Carnegie Hall (New York), Musikverein (Vienna), Concertgebouw (Amsterdam), the Philharmonie halls of Cologne, Paris, Luxembourg and Warsaw, the Bozar (Brussels), the Royal Festival, Barbican and Wigmore Halls (London), the Laeiszhalle (Hamburg), the Megaron (Athens), Konzerthaus Dortmund, the Gulbenkian Auditorium (Lisbon) and the Konserthus (Stockholm).
He has won prizes at more than a dozen national and international competitions, including at the Hamamatsu (Japan), Birmingham and Leeds International Piano Competitions, the Royal Over-Seas League Competition, the Concours Européen de Piano (France) and the coveted Gold Medal from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. In 2013, Ashley won the Worshipful Company of Musicians’ highest award, The Prince’s Prize. Ashley Fripp was chosen as a ‘Rising Star’ by the European Concert Hall Organisation (ECHO), and has also performed in the Chipping Campden, Edinburgh, Brighton, Bath, City of London and St. Magnus International Festivals as well as the Festival Pontino di Musica (Italy). A frequent guest on broadcasting networks, Ashley has appeared on BBC television and radio, Euroclassical, Eurovision TV and the national radio stations of Hungary, Spain, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Belgium and Portugal. He has collaborated with orchestras including the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra, the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, the Milton Keynes City Orchestra and the Kammerorchester der Universität Regensburg (with whom, in 2012, he recorded Chopin Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2). He has worked with conductors including Semyon Bychkov, James Judd, Vasily Petrenko, Robertas Šervenikas, Hilary Davan Wetton, Jonathan Bloxham, Graham Buckland and Peter Stark.
Ashley Fripp studied at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama with Ronan O’Hora. He is currently studying with Eliso Virsaladze at the Scuola di Musica di Fiesole (Italy) and undertaking doctoral studies into the piano music of Thomas Adès at the Guildhall School.
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