The Preludes and Beyond
Chapter 6. Reconsidering the C-minor Prelude
Chapter 6 Reconsidering the C-minor Prelude “Every valid interpretation thus represents, not an approximation of some ideal, but a choice: which of the relationships implicit in the piece are to be emphasized, to be made explicit?” (Edward T. Cone) Ever since I first read Edward T. Cone’s classic little book on musical interpretation, the brevity of his remarks on Chopin’s C-minor Prelude Op. 28, No. 20 has remained a challenge: there is much more to be said about this thirteen-bar piece and its interpretation.1 Cone’s approach to interpretation has very much come to be my own2 - the ability to distinguish and then convey various options inherent in a musical text is at the core of interpretation - and in what follows I will apply some analytic methods that may be useful when preparing a performance of this piece.3 I will in turn consider matters of motivic content, harmony and rhythm, melodic implications, and tonal reduction. Finally, pursuing the far-reaching effects of certain findings, aspects of form will be discussed.4 1 Edward T. Cone, Musical Form and Musical Performance, New York, 1968; his discussion of the C-minor Prelude (pp. 34-35) serves as an illustration to the citation chosen to begin the present essay. 2 For a more comprehensive discussion of some basic issues of interpretation, cf. Bengt Edlund, "Sonate, que te fais-je? Towards a Theory of Interpretation”, The Journal o f Aesthetic Education, 31(1997), 23-40 3 For further similar accounts, cf. Bengt Edlund, “Prelude to the Art of Continuation...
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