Etude Op. 25 No. 12, "Ocean"
In this masterclass, Professor Finghin Collins is accompanied by young pianist Gaston Schadt from Lausanne. For this lesson, they are going to work on the last of Chopin's 24 Études, the so called Ocean Study, Opus 25, Number 12 in C minor, first published in 1837 in French, German, and English.
As this is a work of rising and falling arpeggios in various chord progressions from C minor, Professor Collins reminds Gaston of the importance of a powerful, physical interpretation. This piece is not typical of Chopin's work as it is not especially delicate, it requires firm handling with muscle and determination, as the accents and annotations show. Professor Finghin Collins mentions how achieving symbiosis between left and right hand is crucial for this piece. For once, both hands should be equally powerful.
Working towards left and right hand symbiosis,
Accents are indeed accentuations and must be heard,
Adapt to the piece, not to the composer,
A powerful piece requires good physical training,
The climax of the piece requires energy provisions.
Les Études is a collection of three books of musical studies for solo piano composed by Frédéric Chopin over the course of his career. There are twenty-seven pieces in total. Despite being categorized as études, these works have become highly popular as performance pieces. Known for their extreme difficulty, they changed the face of piano playing forever. Not only did they reveal the technical and expressive capabilities of the modern piano, but they inspired generations of composers to produce their own études of similar quality. Chopin published the first set of twelve études, op. 10, in 1833. He was only twenty-three years old and had been living in Paris for about three years, rising to fame while performing in salons. Op. 10 is dedicated to the great composer and pianist Franz Liszt, who became one of his dearest friends. The next set of twelve études, op. 25, was composed over the next several years and eventually published in 1837. This set was dedicated to Liszt’s mistress, Marie d'Agoult. It is unclear exactly why; d’Agoult could have been simply a friend in Chopin’s circle, though there is speculation that their relationship was more intimate. The final three études do not belong to an opus, as they were published in 1839 as part of a compilation of studies called Méthode des méthodes de piano, collected by Ignaz Moscheles and François-Joseph Fétis. All twenty-seven of the études present a broad range of challenges to pianists, but this has not affected their popularity. Some have become so popular that they have become known by endearing nicknames, though none came directly from Chopin.
Étude Op. 25, No. 12 in C minor is the last of Frédéric Chopin's formal studies for the piano, opus 25, dedicated À Madame la Comtesse d'Agoult. It was first published in 1837 in French, German, and English
Aim for excellence! You can improve your skills with expert advice. Download the annotated sheet music of this piano masterclass. Please note that this piece has been annotated in accordance to Finghin Collins’ feedback and comments.
Winner of the Clara Haskil Competition in 1999
One of Ireland's most successful musicians, Finghin Collins was born in Dublin in 1977 and, following initial lessons with his sister Mary, studied piano at the Royal Irish Academy of Music with John O'Conor and at the Geneva Conservatoire with Dominique Merlet. Winner of the RTÉ Musician of the Future Competition in 1994 and the Classical Category at the National Entertainment Awards in Ireland in 1998, he went on to take first prize at the Clara Haskil International Piano Competition in Switzerland in 1999. Since then, he has continued to enjoy a flourishing international career that takes him all over Europe and the United States, as well as the Far East and Australia.
Collins has performed with such orchestras as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Houston Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Gulbenkian Orchestra, Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, garnering consistent praise from critics and public alike.
Performances across Europe have included such prestigious venues as Symphony Hall Birmingham, Royal Albert Hall, Wigmore Hall, The Barbican and Cadogan Hall, London, the Concertgebouw Amsterdam (both halls), De Doelen Rotterdam (both halls), Théâtre du Châtelet and Salle Cortot Paris, Salle Molière Lyon, Liederhalle Stuttgart, Auditorio Nacional Madrid, Palao de la Musica Valencia, Gulbenkian Hall Lisbon, Sala Verdi Milan, Teatro Manzoni Bologna, Konzerthaus Berlin, Konzerthaus Vienna, Franz Liszt Academy Budapest, Philharmonic Hall Warsaw and the Auditorium Stravinski Montreux. He has also performed at Carnegie Hall, New York and the Kennedy Center, Washington DC, as well as at both Ravinia and Gilmore Festivals in the USA.
Finghin Collins is very active as a programmer, commissioner and concert presenter in Ireland, having been Artistic Director of the New Ross Piano Festival since its inception in 2006, and Artistic Director of Music for Galway since 2013. In 2020, Music for Galway presents the main classical program as part of Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture, including the inaugural edition of CELLISSIMO, a new triennial cello festival.
Collins is also co-founder and co-Artistic Director of the International Master Course at Dublin’s National Concert Hall, together with violinist Gwendolyn Masin. In October 2017, the National University of Ireland conferred on him an honorary Degree of Doctor of Music, in recognition of his outstanding achievements.
Born in Poland in 1810, Frédéric Chopin was a gifted pianist and a highly-acclaimed composer. He was a child prodigy who from the early age of six-years-old began performing in great halls of the Polish bourgeoisie. It was around this time that the young musician began composing. Between 1810 and 1830, he composed 30 works for solo piano. Chopin’s compositions comprise beautiful melodies, sophisticated harmonies, and an original approach to formal design. If the piano is the romantic instrument par excellence; it is due, in large part, to the contribution of Chopin.
At the opposite of the orchestral pianism of his contemporary Franz Liszt (representative of the most extroverted and passionate, almost exhibitionist, facet of Romanticism), the Polish composer explored an intrinsically poetic style, of a subtle lyricism. The two composers would later become friends and admirers of each other’s works. It is said that Chopin's earliest compositions are, in some way, a product of influence from the "brilliant style" of public pianism associated with composers such as Hummel, Weber, Moscheles, and Kalkbrenner, among others. Later, the pieces that were composed during his Warsaw period—which involved the radical reworking of forms, procedures, and materials—are testimony to the influence of the Viennese Classical composers and Bach. The influence of popular Polish music is also vital in his works.