, don't get me wrong here, I'm not arguing with your opinion, which you're entitled to, of course. Come to think of it, a body of less than 20 very short works, especially when compared to all the other stuff Chopin wrote, isn't probably worth a protracted discussion. In point of fact, I actually agree with most of the things that you write
. If you read my earlier posts (the ones from page 2) you will notice that I acknowledged at the beginning that some
of Chopin's songs are poor efforts indeed (I actually explicitly mentioned "fais dodo", so there!
). But I disagree with the contention that "Chopin could not write well for the voice, period" - I think that 4 or 5 of his songs (and that's actually quite a high percentage!
) are exceptionally good
, and I would in fact call 1 or 2 of them masterpieces.
However, as I said before (in 2007!
), I never meant to imply that Chopin was a vocal composer on par
with Schubert or Verdi or Rossini or Donizetti etc. who were primarily
and almost exclusively vocal composers (well, not Schubert). That would have been absurd. A statement like that would make sense in regard to Moniuszko but certainly
not Chopin. I simply stated that Chopin's songs are performed much less than they deserve and that a few of the late ones should really be heard more often. Because while Chopin can't generally
be compared to vocal composers, he has written a handful of pieces which do
stand the comparison (IMO).
And I like arguing with your arguments - rather than your opinions themselves. For the fun/sake of an interesting conversation rather than to really convince you, which I don't think I should be even trying to do.
So, to come to the arguments: the "singer's point of view" argument doesn't really convince me. I don't think all singers unanimously agree on this matter (and anyway, with very few notable exceptions, artists tend to have differing tastes, don't they?). Ewa Podleś, for example, has recorded the complete
Chopin songs at least twice
and selections of his songs at least twice as well, and she sings them often at recitals. That seems like a lot for someone whose discography consists of thirty-odd discs...
Of course, you can say that she is a Polish singer, so she is biased. But then I can't think of many Western singers recording any
Polish song repertoire so I assume this has got more to do with language constraints. OK, I'm opening an entirely new topic/line of thought here - but it is loosely linked to the subject of this thread, so here I go.
It is for instance the general opinion that Szymanowski's vocal writing is among the best in his output - not easy to perform (the notorious extremely high pianissimo notes etc.) but still very well written for the voice (Szymanowski's sister was in their times a famous opera singer). And yet, while Szymanowski's concertos, symphonies and piano works are sometimes recorded by Western artists, I can't think of a single recording of his songs
done by a Western singer. Same goes for the Lutosławski Iłłakowicz settings, usually recognized as one of his finest works from the period when he wrote them (conversely, none of Lutosławski's songs to French texts have been recorded by Polish singers!). And I'm not going to even start on the subject of Moniuszko...
The situation is quite different in Slavic countries, such as Russia, or Ukraine, or Belarus, where Polish vocal repertoire, including Chopin
Moniuszko), is performed much