Laura Magnani joined series moderator Cathy Angelo by Zoom to talk about her relationship with Paul Hersh and her deep connection to Chopin’s piano music.
“I’ve felt this connection with Chopin ever since I was very little – it came as a primordial call.
When I first started playing Chopin’s Ballade No. 3 in my teens, it was a very difficult work for me – there were many challenging technical details of dynamics, pedal, voicing, and touch to overcome. In time after studying all four ballades and many other piano works, you come to terms with Chopin’s language and style. And then you start to understand what he meant in a particular part of the third ballade and you go back and revisit everything with new knowledge. Once I reached a point where the technique was not such a big challenge and I could go beyond the stress of playing the notes, it was very helpful to read the four poems by Adam Mickiewicz. The poems were not a direct influence, because Chopin was a purist, he would not understand or agree with any external connection between the music and other things. His music is never descriptive [of] a poem or a landscape. In fact he doesn’t have names for his compositions, they’re scherzos, ballades, etudes, sonatas – there are no descriptions. But I couldn’t help seeing the deep impression he received, particularly for the third ballade, from the poem about Ondine, who is the goddess of water. Throughout the piece there’s the feeling of being under a spell of a nymph who has an agenda towards the shepherd – she wants him to get into the water and get lost in the water so she can possess his soul. It’s just so obvious to me that there is a story behind this piece even though it’s not declared, it’s not named so when I play it, it goes in front of my eyes like a movie, it has a narrative, it has a story to tell. That’s what I love about this piece.
The third ballade has a particular way of describing an inner state of being completely fascinated, almost under the spell of something bigger than you, almost paranormal – when you’re drawn into something, a call you can’t resist – and this piece has that call in the main theme. It’s like something is calling him irresistibly. It’s so human, it is such a description of the human journey, and part of the human journey is to be magnetized by things that we can’t understand. We get so wrapped up and completely involved to the point of being completely lost – it’s a feeling between wonderful and terrifying, and I think this piece conveys all these feelings. That’s why it is so compelling to me.”
I hope that you will join AMN’s third session of the Piano Conversations series on May 4 as Paul and Laura explore one of Chopin’s best-known piano works, Ballade No. 3 in greater depth.
Learn more in this preview video!
Online participants will be part of the conversation, adding questions and comments in real time. And all registered participants will receive a video link to the workshop recording.
Tickets are $65 for the series, $20 for individual sessions.
DATES, TIMES, AND TOPICS
Wednesday, April 20, 2022 | 5:30 p.m. Pacific
Ludwig van Beethoven
Piano Sonata, Op. 109 (1820) – 3. Theme and Variations
Pianist: Christopher Basso
Wednesday, April 27, 2022 | 5:30 p.m. Pacific
Drei Klavierstucke, D. 946 (1828) – No. 1 Allegro assai
Pianist: Hye Yeong Min
Wednesday, May 4, 2022 | 5:30 p.m. Pacific
Ballade No. 3 in A-Flat Major, Op. 47 (1841)
Pianist: Laura Magnani
Wednesday, May 11, 2022 | 5:30 p.m. Pacific
Miroirs (1905) – 3. Une barque sur l’ocean
Pianist: Monica Chew