Piano Concerto No. 1 in E Minor, Op. 11, 1st movement
Piano Concerto No. 1 in E Minor, Op. 11, 1st movement
Produced by the Saline royale Academy in October, 2021 at Arc-et-Senans.
In this masterclass, Professor Jean-François Heissler and student Ionah Maiatsky embark on a Chopinesque journey, working on the famous concerto No. 1, composed in 1830 when Frederic Chopin was only twenty years old.
Professor Heissler dedicates himself to work on each part of the complex piece, and shares several key points with his student. For example, Ionah is instructed to work on the balance between his two hands and that his wrist is too static. Speed and unity are also two important notes that Heissler gives to his student. Because the tempos vary in the concerto, it is essential to keep the rhythm equal and keep a coherent story throughout the piece.
Sound must be sustained; hands and fingers and wrists must stay flexible. Additionally, one must avoid rushing into difficult parts of the piece, and respect Chopin’s punctuation. When playing this concerto, which was written for a solo piano and orchestra, the harmonic expression is paramount.
Maintaining a flexible hand and wrist.
Be mindful of the musical intention of the oeuvre.
Keeping units equal and avoid rushing.
Allowing the left hand to support the tempo.
This first of two piano concertos was written by Frédéric Chopin in 1830 as a farewell to Poland. The famous composer was only 20 years old when he wrote it and performed it himself in Warsaw before returning to France.
The piece is intended for a small orchestra and lasts for about 40 minutes. After its first performance, it was met with remarkable success. That said, over the years, critics have had various opinions about the concerto; some even proclaiming that the orchestral part is boring and dry. It is structured in 3 movements: the allegro maestoso, the romanze and the rondo.
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 Jean-Fancois Heisser’s feedback and comments.
1973: 1st Prize in piano, counterpoint, harmony, fugue, accompaniment and chamber music.
Jean-François Heisser is a well-rounded artist, leading a versatile career as a pianist, conductor and teacher, fueled by a vast cultural knowledge and tireless intellectual curiosity.
Born in Saint-Etienne, he is the disciple and heir of Vlado Perlemuter, Henriette Puig-Roget and Maria Curcio.
He was profesor at the Paris Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique from 1991 till 2016. Among his talented students are Bertrand Chamayou and Jean-Frédéric Neuburger, with whom he has developed a relationship of close musical complicity.
He now balances his career as a soloist with his activities as the musical director of the Nouvelle- Aquitaine Chamber Orchestra (since 2001), and as guest conductor and also artistic director of various institutions and major musical productions.
His extensive discography boasts over 40 recordings: after his highly acclaimed recording of the piano works of Paul Dukas (awarded the Diapason d’or de l’année prize), he embarked on a collaboration with Erato Records (a 6-CD boxed set dedicated to the Spanish repertoire of Schumann, Brahms, Saint-Saëns, Debussy, etc.), then with Naïve Records (Beethoven, Brahms) and Praga Records (Weber, Berg, Manoury, Bartok…). His recording activities are currently centered on recordings with the Nouvelle Aquitaine Chamber Orchestra for Mirare (de Falla, Wien 1925, Dubois, American Journey, Edtion of the complete Beethoven Piano Concertos) and Musicales Actes Sud (Albéniz, Mompou) labels. Just issued : the recording with Marie-Josèphe Jude of his transcription for 2 pianos of the Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique (Harmonia Mundi). Erato/Warner also recently published a box of his famous spanish recordings.
As a soloist, he has played under the baton of renowned conductors such as Janowski, TilsonThomas, Segerstam, Krivine, Mehta, Plasson, Roth etc., with, among others, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orchestre de Paris, the Bayerischer Rundfunk, the Orchestre National de France or Les Siècles… He frequently performs in recitals, with a preference for Beethoven (Sonatas, Diabelli Variations etc.), Brahms, Chopin, the Spanish repertoire (Albéniz, de Falla, Granados, Mompou) and, naturally, the works of great French composers of the past and present. Alongside his performances of great concertos and major works of the piano repertoire, he is also an eager proponent: S. Poltronieri of 20thcentury works and contemporary creation: the Turangalilâ-Symphonie and Olivier Messiaen’s Des Canyons aux Étoiles, under the direction of Mehta, Janowski or Segerstam; Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Klavierstücke, Mantra and Kontakte; or the world first performance, among others, of Gilbert Amy and Nguyen Thien Dao’s Piano Concertos, along with three major works by Philippe Manoury: La Ville, Veränderungen pour piano seul and Terra Ignota for piano and 22 musicians. His uncompromising approach to interpretation leads him to perform regularly on period pianos (Weber: The Four Sonatas – Praga Records -, Konzertstück – on Mirare-). Under the direction of François Xavier Roth and his orchestra “Les Siècles”, he also alternates between modern pianos (the three Bartok concertos) and period instruments (Saint-Saëns and Brahms).
As a chamber musician, Jean-François Heisser has, needless to say, covered the entire repertoire with musical partners such as the Ysaye, Lindsay and Pražák Quartets, and his recording of the Bartok sonatas with Peter Csaba (on Praga) is now regarded as an essential work. He has also emerged as a leading advocate of the four-hands piano repertoire and of works for two pianos, notably with G. Pludermacher, M.J Jude and J.F Neuburger, and has also written daring and magnificent transcriptions for two pianos of works such as The Rite of Spring or the Symphonie Fantastique (recording with Marie-Josèphe Jude – Harmonia Mundi Jan 19). An event recording of Mantra by Stockhausen, produced with JH Neuburger, will be released in September 2020 for Mirare.
As a musical director, he has been in charge of developing the Nouvelle Aquitaine Chamber Orchestra project since 2001, firmly establishing the orchestra as one of the finest French chamber ensembles, as reflected in its recordings on the Mirare label: the orchestra’s rendering of a primitive version of de Falla’s El Amor Brujo as well as of Berg’s Kammerkonzerte were both widely acclaimed by the musical press, and are now praised as reference recordings of these works. A recording of the Complete Beethoven Concertos conducted from the piano has been released in 2017. As an artistic director, his ongoing partnership with Editions Actes-Sud has led him to direct the musical program of the Soirées Musicales d’Arles. From 2015 onwards, he will also serve as the artistic advisor of the Festival de l’Orangerie de Sceaux. And finally, continuing the work and preserving the memory of his mentor Vlado Perlemuter, “historical” performer of the great French composers,
Jean-François Heisser is also the President of the Maurice Ravel International Academy, a major educational center for the training of talented young artists. Jean-François Heisser is also the president and artitsice manager of the Ravel Festival in Nouvelle-Aquitaine since August 2017.
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.