There comes a point in life when we look back, trying to gain a sense of perspective, and we see ourselves in a different light. We are haunted by memories and doubts, whirring around our minds like ghosts. They tell us of past hopes, love, admiration, but also loneliness, pain and despair. We stand at the edge, looking back, contemplating those moments, wondering, what if? And we realise: there is no turning back.
Chopin looked back and evoked for us the story of his life in his 24 Preludes. Through the medium of these works, he revealed his deepest fears and sorrows, but also the beauty and integrity of his heart. The story of these ghosts culminates in tolling bells which are, in Cortot’s words, “Of blood, of earthly pleasure, of death...” But what follows? A pause: silence, timeless solitude, in the Etude Op.10, No.6. Then, suddenly, the soul wakes up and waltzes into space.
The album ends with the Scherzo No.2, “like a charnel house”, or house of the dead, as Chopin apparently described the opening – yet the finale sounds like a celebration of life. And so our ghostly journey ends with fireworks, with smiling and shining, looking far into the future...