Chopin - Scherzo No. 2 in B-flat minor, Op. 31
Artur Rubinstein, piano
It was difficult for me, under the tutelage of a teacher, to learn to read music and to play with anything resembling an organized technique after years of childhood spent teaching myself to play anything and everything by ear. I was able to fool her for a (very little) while by simply having her play my pieces for me and then repeating them back to her a moment later. But I remember the point when I was able to move beyond the dreaded “method books” into at least the shallow end of real classical literature, and from that time forward I had my eyes fixed on this piece. The contrast between the heroicism of the outer sections and the wanness of the trio theme still gets me. Chopin was my first love—from about the ages of 9 to 13 or so, I listened to and played little if anything else.
My teacher used to tell me that at Juilliard the four scherzi of Chopin were sometimes jokingly referred to as “shit-zos” because of the technical surety and sheer stamina required to pull them off in fine form.