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Chopin, Piano Prelude No. 20 in C minor, Op. 28 (0'51'')

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Belongs to Chopin's 24 Preludes, Op. 28, a set of short pieces for the piano, one in each of the twenty-four keys, originally published in 1839. Chopin wrote them between 1835 and 1839, partly at Valldemossa, Majorca, where he spent the winter of 1838-39 and where he had fled with George Sand and her children to escape the damp Paris weather. In Majorca, Chopin had a copy of Bach's The Well-Tempered Clavier, and as in each of Bach's two sets of preludes and fugues, his Op. 28 set comprises a complete cycle of the major and minor keys, albeit with a different ordering. This piece is brief, with slow majestic crotchet chords in the right hand predominating, against crotchet octaves in the left. It is often called the "Chord" prelude. It was originally written in two sections of four measures, although Chopin later added a repeat of the last four measures at a softer level, with an expressive swell before the final cadence. Used as a theme for variations by Ferruccio Busoni, and later, without the repeated bars, by Sergei Rachmaninoff in his Variations on a Theme of Chopin, a set of 22 variations in a wide range of keys, tempos and lengths. It’s mood and/or theme is characterized funerals, a funeral march.

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