Chopin Scherzo No 2 in B Flat Minor

Chopin's Scherzo No 2 in B Flat Minor, Opus 31 was composed and published in 1837, five years after the first. It was dedicated to Countess Adele Fürstensein. Robert Schumann, a composer who frequently wrote about his contemporary's works, compared this Scherzo to a Byronic poem, "so overflowing with tenderness, boldness, love and contempt." Wilhlem von Lenz (one of Chopin's pupils) wrote of the sotto voce opening that "For Chopin it was never questioning enough, never soft enough, never vaulted (tombe) enough. It must be a charnel-house."

The overall structure of the Chopin Scherzo No 2 is sonata form. The tempo marking is presto with the main melody marked con anima(animated). Although the scherzo is in the key of B Flat Minor, most of the work is written in D Flat major for the main section, and A Major for the middle section.

Chopin's Scherzo no 2 opens with two arpeggiated pianissimo chords in the key of B Flat Minor. A set of fortissimo chords follows these arpeggios creating a huge contrast. A beautiful melody in D Flat follows to complete the main section, which is repeated three times during the piece. The trio (middle section) is filled with longing and contains some exquisite melodic writing. Here Chopin takes some arpeggio elements from the first section. Huneker writes of the trio section: "What masterly writing, and it lies in the very heart of the piano! A hundred generations may not improve on these pages." Having performed this piece numerous times, I always love to revel in the wonderful melodic writing of this section.

The coda ends in triumph, in the related key of D Flat Major. In contrast the the Scherzo No 1, the second Scherzo is somewhat more contained and melodically pleasing, and is perhaps the more popular of the four Scherzi.

Listen to Chopin's Scherzo No 2 in B Flat Minor played by Jonathan Oshry




©2012 Jonathan Oshry • joshry@hotmail.com