Composers vs Editors: Another controversial note

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John Ruggero
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Composers vs Editors: Another controversial note

Post by John Ruggero » 14 Mar 2019, 22:33

Several controversial notes occur at the end of Chopin's Etude op. 10 no. 8. Analysis proves helpful in dealing with the following one:
Chopin Etude op 10 no 8 MS.jpg
At the asterisk in measure 60, many editions (including the New Polish National Edition) have felt that the composer omitted a natural through oversight, a common error for him, and the left hand note shown with an asterisk should be a C natural rather than C sharp. The rationale is that the progression in ms. 57-60 is a series of passing diminished seventh chords that connect a C dominant seventh chord in second inversion to an F triad. In each case, Chopin chooses a diatonic scale tone as the passing tone that falls between the second and third tones and this also includes the final one which should therefore be a C natural.
Chopin op 10 no 8 m 60 Ex A-C.jpeg
However, when I play through a condensation of this passage according to this theory as seen at EXAMPLE A, I find that when I emphasize the fourth chord while feeling the overall large C7 harmony resolving to an F triad, it clashes against the musical sense, and is not what I hear when I hear an actual performance of this piece.

A deeper analysis convinces me that the situation is actually more complex.

As shown at EXAMPLE B above, the highest right hand melody line: E-F-G-A is accompanied by line lowest left hand line in parallel sixths: G-A-B flat-C, so C7 actually appears in two positions, in second inversion under the melody note E and in third inversion under the melody note G.

In order to maintain the same style of left hand figuration within the cramped third inversion chord, Chopin changes the previous meaning of the first three notes of the pattern from:
chord tone-passing tone-chord tone
to: chord tone-chord-tone-passing tone,
as seen in EXAMPLE D.
Chopin op 10 no 8 m. 60 Ex D.jpeg
In other wrods, the C that arrives in the left hand on the fourth chord in EXAMPLE B is a chord tone representing the continuation of the V7 harmony. The following tone is a passing tone C sharp whose resolution is withheld until the D within the final passing diminished seventh chord that connects directly to the F chord. Note also the suspension of the C sharp passing tone before it resolves as seen in EXAMPLES C and D.

For this reason, I think that Chopin made no error and that the C sharp was the intended note.
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