Recommended: An evening of Frederic Chopin’s music

Most listeners today hear Chopin in ways which detract from the intimacy and emotion so abundant in his works.

An evening of Frédéric Chopin’s music will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 23, at Vashon Center for the Arts.

The first half of the concert will feature Mark Salman, playing the rarely performed Polonaise Fantasie and Chopin’s 4th Ballad. In the second half, Mark’s son, cellist Jonathan Salman, will join Mark to perform Chopin’s Cello Sonata.

Most listeners today hear Chopin digitally on headphones or performed live in huge halls with 2,000 to 4,000 seats, which detract from the intimacy and emotion so abundant in Chopin’s works.

Psychological research confirms that listening to Chopin releases endorphins, and even more effectively so, when heard acoustically, live and in person in a small venue of 300 audiences. That’s part of the magic offered at Kay White Hall – its intimacy and magnificent acoustics.

Mark and Jonathan Salman’s program includes a selection of late works Chopin composed in the last five years of his short life. Chopin’s last public performance in Paris, in 1848, featured his Cello Sonata, which is only one of nine compositions he composed for another instrument than the piano.

The Cello Sonata was Chopin’s last published work in his lifetime. In the third movement of this sonata, the Largo movement, listeners will hear one of Chopin’s most poignant and beautiful melodies.

The late works of many great composers can be described as “the seven steps to heaven.”

Step by step, Chopin takes us away from our mundane reality when we transcend into another dimension. Chopin, who suffered from tuberculosis since 18, and knew the fate of his disease, often wrote thinking a composition could be his last.

However, rather than being morose and sullen, Chopin chose the challenge of excellence: the beauty of melody, depth of harmony, and pianistic color.

Many late works of Chopin present some of the greatest challenges for pianists requiring at minimum a complete mastery of piano technique, but even more importantly a deep emotional interpretation and understanding. Fortunately for Vashon and the Seattle area, pianist Mark Salman masters all these challenges with panache, as VCA audiences have heard over the years in the Composer Lecture Series and recitals.

If you are unfamiliar with some of the works of Chopin to be performed by Mark and Jonathan Salman (see below box), YouTube offers a quick way to hear them and become a bit more familiar with the music before their concert — an evening not to be missed. Get tickets at

An Evening of Chopin in Kay White Hall

Polonaise-Fantasie. Op. 61

Mazurka in A Minor Op. 59, No.1

Impromptu No 1 in A-flat, Op. 29

Waltz in E-flat Op 18

Nocturne in F Minor, Op 55, No 1

Fourth Ballad, Op. 52

Sonata in G Minor for Cello and Piano, Op. 65

— Michael Tracy is a musicologist and advisor to Vashon Center for the Arts, responsible for bringing many national and international artists to perform in concert at the venue.