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Click to Watch in HD > Frederic Chopin Etude Op. 10 No. 3 (Tristesse)
Watch Pianist Pablo Cintron performs Etude Op. 10 No. 3 Étude Op. 10, No. 3, in E major, is a study for solo piano composed by Frédéric Chopin in 1832. It was first published in 1833 in France, Germany, and England as the third piece of his Études Op. 10. This is a slow cantabile study for polyphonic and legato playing. Chopin himself believed the melody to be his most beautiful one. It became famous through numerous popular arrangements. Although this étude is sometimes identified by the names Tristesse (Sadness) or Farewell (LAdieu), neither is a name given by Chopin.
This étude differs from most of Chopins in its tempo, its poetic character and the lingering yet powerful recitation of its cantabile melody. It marks a significant departure from the technical virtuosity required in standard études before Chopins time, though, especially in the third volume of Clementi’s Gradus ad Parnassum (1826), slow études for polyphonic playing, especially slower introductions to études, as well as études with alternating slower and faster sections, can easily be found.
According to German scholar and Chopin biographer Frederick Niecks (1845–1924) Chopin said to his German pupil and copyist Adolph Gutmann (1819–1882) that he had never in his life written another such beautiful melody (‘chant’); and on one occasion when Gutmann was studying it the master lifted his arms with his hands clasped and exclaimed: ‘O, my fatherland!’ (O, me [sic] patrie!) Niecks writes that this study may be reckoned among Chopin’s loveliest compositions as it combines classical chasteness of contour with the fragrance of romanticism. American music critic James Huneker (1857–1921) believed it to be simpler, less morbid, sultry and languorous, therefore saner, than the much bepraised study in C sharp minor. Chopin originally gave his Op.10 No. 3 Etude the tempo Vivace, later adding ..ma non troppo. It is also relevant to observe that this etude is in 2/4 time and not 4/4, although it is generally performed as a very slow 4/8 piece. The visual impact of the score alone strongly suggests that a languid tempo is incorrect. There is also no doppio movimento following the opening section, which results in an erroneous drastic slowing down for the re-entry of the opening section. These are unwritten by Chopin, according to his autograph manuscript and other original source materials.
Polish pianist and editor Jan Ekier (1913-2014) writes in the Performance Commentary to the Polish National Edition that this étude is always performed slower or much slower than is indicated by [Chopin’s] tempo [MM 100]. The original autograph (first draft) bears the marking Vivace changed to Vivace ma non troppo in the clean copy (Stichvorlage) for the French edition. Ekier observes: Only in print did Chopin change it to Lento ma non troppo simultaneously adding a metronome mark. The middle section, especially the bravura passage in sixths at the climax, is always played at a much faster tempo than the A section. An argument in favor of Chopin’s fast metronome mark, according to Ekier, is the fact that the middle section has the marking poco più animato [not in bold print], which suggests only a slight acceleration of the opening tempo. This indication is not found in the autographs, showing that Chopin originally envisioned a fast and unified tempo for the étude. Chopin disliked excessive sentiments expressed during performance, as it tore the musical structure he initially intended. Chopin also eschewed a beleaguering tempo with distinct pulse since it destroyed the significance of the 2/4 time signature.