Chopin for the Cello

Frederik Chopin’s (1810-1849) Introduction and Polonaise, Cello Sonata, and Piano Trio constitute an important part of our Romantic cello repertoire and need no introduction. But we are left wanting more. In addition to listening in ecstasy to his piano music and feeling extremely jealous of the world’s pianists, we also can play some of this extraordinary music.

Here then is a selection of Chopin’s music for solo piano, transcribed for cello with simple accompaniment. For these transcriptions, we have normally “stolen” the piano’s right-hand melodies for the cello, leaving usually only a very simple accompaniment (normally just the piano’s original left-hand part) for the accompanying instrument. These harmonies can of course be filled out to occupy both of a pianist’s hands, but in the versions offered here, we have normally preferred to keep the accompaniments simple – almost skeletal – so that they can also be played by other chordal instruments such as the guitar and the harp. See “Transcribing Piano Music For Cello“.

THE WALTZES

Chopin, along with Tchaikovsky, was an absolute master of the waltz (or, in french, the walse). The use of great rhythmic freedom, variety and rubato in our interpretation is not only a possibility but rather an absolute necessity when playing these “Romantic Period” waltzes. The lively ones require considerable virtuosity as the piano can play much faster than the cello and covers a much greater pitch range. Octave transpositions have been used to avoid some of the passages in the extreme registers of the piano while for other passages that are repeated through different octaves, the bars with the highest-register repetitions have occasionally been simply eliminated rather than being repeated once again in the same lower octave.

Here then are some of the most delightful of Chopin’s 15 famous Waltzes:

  1. Walse Brillante in Eb Op 18
  2.     Walse Brillante in A Minor Op 34 Nº 2
  3.     Walse in Db Op 64 Nº 1 (Minute Waltz)
  4.     Walse in C# Minor Op 64 Nº2
  5.     Walse in A minor Op Posthumous
  6.     Walse in E Op Posthumous

THE NOCTURNES

The Chopin Nocturnes defy all descriptions: they are pure romantic magic

  1. Nocturne Op 9 Nº 2 in Eb
  2.       Nocturne Op 27 Nº 2 in Db
  3.       Nocturne Op 72 in E minor
  4.       Nocturne Nº 20 in C# minor Op Posth

THE ECOSSAISES

These are three charming dances, supposedly influenced by Scottish folk music

  1. Ecossaise Nº 1
  2.      Ecossaise Nº 2
  3.      Ecossaise Nº 3