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Keyed in to Chopin

By Chen Nan | China Daily | Updated: 2021-10-16 13:29

Chen Sa, besotted with Chopin, starts to learn to play piano at age 9.[Photo provided to China Daily]

Chen Sa has been a fan of Frederic Chopin since she first started to learn to play piano at age 9.

She has performed many of his works during her career and developed a deeper understanding of the composer as she grew up and grew into her life as a professional musician.

In 2019, Chen toured nationwide, performing a program of 21 nocturnes by Chopin. She planned to record an album featuring these pieces in Berlin, Germany, in March 2020. But her plan was postponed due to the COVID pandemic.

She spent hours at home practicing the works of various composers during the period during the outbreak when live concerts were canceled or suspended.

But the idea of recording the Chopin album lingered in her mind.

Several months ago, she spent three days finally recording the album, Chopin's 21 Nocturnes, in the concert hall of the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing. The record was released by Decca, a label under Universal Music Group, on Sept 23.

It's Chen's second album released by Decca after one in 2017, featuring 24 preludes by Claude Debussy.

Chopin's 21 nocturnes for solo piano, composed between 1827 and 1846, are considered to rank among the finest short solo piano pieces.

"Chopin's 21 nocturnes hold an important place in the contemporary concert repertoire," Chen says.

"Many great pianists have performed and recorded them. I was allowed to explore the greater emotional depth of these pieces after the tour in 2019."

The musician immersed herself in Chopin's music for 12 hours on the first day of recording the nocturnes album.

Chen describes the experience as "zero gravity".

The second day saw the pianist return to her usual state of calm and quiet. She wrapped up recording in the middle of the night and felt instant relief.

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