[Source:] Both of Chopin’s piano concerti have their merits, but
[1.] the Concerto in E minor is easier to take on:
[2.] ‘the F minor is more personal,
[3.] it is more difficult to understand the musical process; in terms of expression, this work is less brilliant.
The Concerto in E minor, obviously, is also [2.] very personal,
but the [4.] objective brilliance of this work does help.’

I unfortunately don't understand Mr Ohlsson's explanation; the bolded words appear too broad and vague to me.

For example: 1. Why is #1 easier? 2. What does it mean for #2 to be "more personal "than #1? I'm too confused by 3 and 4 even to divine their meanings.

  • 3
    You might enjoy George Orwell's essay "Politics and the English Language", in which he reserves special criticism for the meaningless language often used in art criticism. I would have a hard time defining objectively the terms "personal", "expression", or "brilliant" as they're used here. – musarithmia Feb 16 '16 at 18:16
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    Unfortunately your source link has broken. – user48353 May 7 '18 at 1:10

If it helps, I can tell you that Ohlsson's statements don't mean a huge amount to someone with a full musical training and 50+ years of practical experience either! He's telling us something about his personal reaction to the two pieces. He feels (I think) that in one the "fireworks" are sufficient to maintain interest, in the less showy piece he has to work harder to reveal the musical content. He then contradicts himself to an extent on the "personal" issue.

Don't worry too much over "words about music". Enjoy the two pieces. Maybe look for emotion inside the more technical one, for effective (though less flashy) piano writing in the other.

  • Thanks. In your last paragraph, did you intend to leave vague which was the more technical one and which contained the effective (though less flashy) piano writing in the other? – NNOX Apps Feb 16 '16 at 19:35
  • Would you please respond in your answer, which is easier to read than comments? – NNOX Apps Feb 16 '16 at 19:36
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    Go back to the source. Treat it as food for thought, rather than categorical statements. Which of the two works do YOU feel is more technically brilliant? Do you feel this diminishes its "deepness"? Does any of this matter? Yes, I know. I'm giving you more questions, not the answers you're looking for. – Laurence Payne Feb 17 '16 at 0:41

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