Chopin, Etude C#Minor, opus 10 nr.4

Played in Chopin’s original Tempo

What tempo did Chopin had in mind for his etude opus 10 nr.4?

Chopin’s etude in C#Minor, opus 10 Nr.4, one of the most famous -of the overall famous…- etudes. It’s written so extremely well for the keyboard that the literal interpretation of Chopin’s own MM (half=88) is within reach for today’s pianists.

But probably the most important argument against the today’s single beat (literal) reading of those thousands of metronome numbers are…those metronome numbers themselves…! It doesn’t matter if you can play a dozen or even more of them in single beat, they ALL were considered to be playable. And should be today.
But even Lang Lang will fall short in trying… That’s the beauty of it all: it’s simple and pure, those MM stand as fact high above any level of research or discussion. Not regarding ‘opinions’ here, they are, well… yes… exactly that.

So thousands of other MM are waiting for you if you really are in for a journey that would bring you closer to the composer’s original thought. And if you are and think this double (metrical) reading of the metronome is “nonsense” (=opinion), or in the best way you still have doubts (because why are so few people in for this?), you started for an interesting climb, on which you’ll have to be able to play 15 repeats a second (if possible without repetition actions), sing over 11 syllables per second (if possible still understandable – subtitles are something of today), in Czerny’s etudes -as the opus 299- you’ll have to play 15 notes per second as well, and so on.

If that doesn’t work, there is only the other solution, the metrical approach of the MM, where not only ALL metronome numbers become playable (not easy), plus: the result fit perfectly in the notation practice that, early 19th century was still heavily based on 18th century practices.

Here’s a video for you to start a new journey.

And so, in very short terms explained here, that also applies for this etude. Sure, there will be a road block if you are accustomed to faster performances, that’s up to you to put it aside or not. But if you do, see what nice connections you’ll start to see with other etudes of that time by which Chopin was heavily influenced. Clementi being the first to mention! And: look at the notation, the accents he requires even on 8th note syncopations. And so on.