Episode 19: Chopin at the Disco

Prelude in C minor, Op. 28, No. 20

rc-chopin-disco-200A prelude fit for a funeral… or a disco...

For people of a certain age, the opening of Chopin’s Prelude in C-minor calls to mind one thing: Barry Manilow’s song “Could It Be Magic.” The pop song begins and ends with a solo piano playing the prelude: a very short, funereal march that becomes an ever-softer hymn.

But Barry Manilow was neither the first, nor the last to use those 13 measures as a starting point. Jazz pianist Bill Evans reworked it as a tune called “Blue Interlude”. Donna Summer put “Could It Be Magic” on the charts a second time, as a disco hit. The retro-trio Puppini Sisters slowed it back down again, with tight harmony and an acoustic guitar accompaniment. The boy-choir crossover group Libera took it for a trip into the church, in a reverb-filled arrangement called “The Fountain”.

As a theme, it’s also inspired 10 variations and a fugue, by Ferruccio Busoni and 22 variations by Sergei Rachmaninoff. It’s a prelude that seems to be comfortable however – and wherever – it’s played. Could it be magic? - Jeffrey Freymann-Weyr

Radio Chopin Episode 19: Chopin at the Disco



Prelude in C minor, Op. 28, No. 20