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Czerny Op 335 #32, 2 Versions

Czerny’s #32 is, like #31, a form most of us know best as epitomized by Chopin. Just as there had been nocturnes before John Field and Czerny (eg, 17th Century Italian notturno), there had been polonaises long before Chopin (the French Baroque, as idealized in the movements in J S Bach’s French suites). But while the nocturne remained typically “nocturnal” throughout its evolution, the courtly polonaise underwent a striking development from Bach to Chopin. It became increasingly weighty and proud and aggressive with, now and then, a touch of menace.

Czerny’s #32 is in ternary form, the A section made up of 2 repeated halves, the B section a contrasting “trio,” and also made up of two repeated halves. In “tempo di polacca,” Czerny is writing in the style and character of his teacher, Beethoven (cf the finale of the Triple Concerto): lighter, calmer, sweeter than what the later Romantics will make of polonaises--and, above all, quicker. In the A section the LH accompaniment is light and dry and all in 8ths, and it thins out into simple broken triads (mm 13-14). This may be for no other reason than to keep a too-busy accompaniment from interfering with the RH decoration, but the result is a much less aggressive dance character than we’re used to. Czerny gives a single direction in the A section, “grazioso,” but in the B section he calls for “tenuto e cantabile” and “leggiero” and “dolce,” and the LH to be “sempre staccato,” and everything double-piano except for two ferocious outbursts after the first double bar. In the B section the RH decoration is minimal, while the LH is made up of thumping octaves and thick chords. Czerny certainly wants there to be a contrast with the delicate A section, but, personally, I find the complicated directions and the heavy LH overdone.

Op 335 #32, 1st Version, light “tempo di polacca,” 16 sets of 8-count phrases

This is my performance of #32 at Czerny’s tempo and as written, except for the LH of the B section. I’ve rewritten the LH part, moving it out of the tenor register in which Cznery places it, and thinning out the chords and octaves. I’ve aimed for a jaunty character and “rustic” effect with open fourths and fifths to contrast with the high tessitura and delicate character of the A section. I provide a score of my rewritten B section.

Op 335 #32, 2nd Version, Grand Polonaise, 16 sets of 8-count phrases

This is an idealized arrangement of #32. I’ve slowed the tempo and regularized the LH rhythm to conform to the typical grand polonaise of the mid-ninteenth century, but mainly I’ve manipulated Czerny’s material using DAW software to create the effect of multiple players on 2 pianos. I’ve doubled the melody line and bass and introduced melodic activity in the inner voices to create a big, complex sound which moves the piece into the territory of Tchaikovsky’s great polonaises for orchestra.

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