According to Breitkopf & Hartel the bass octaves are E both times. Mikuli gives G sharp the first time instead of E; Klindworth, G sharp the second time; Riemann, E, and also Kullak. The G sharp seems more various. In the thirteenth prelude, F sharp major, here is lovely atmosphere, pure and peaceful. The composer has found mental rest.
Beethov-ian, in its ruggedness, the Chopin of this C minor study is as far removed from the musical dandyisms of the Parisian drawing rooms as is Beethoven himself. It is orchestral in intention and a true epic of the piano. Riemann places half notes at the beginning of each measure, as a reminder of the necessary clinging of the thumbs. I like Von Bulow's version the best of all.
It is not possible here to treat this complicated question in full detail for which reference must be made to the works of J. Beck. But it is clear that the system above outlined is an improvement upon that proposed by such earlier students of the subject as Riemann, who assumed that each syllable was sung to a note or group of notes of equal time value.
What could have been better for the purpose than to have made them parade before us in historic mardi-gras? wearing their hearts on their sleeves, or in their letters, their music, their lives, as they trooped forth endlessly from the tomes of Burney, Hawkins, Fétis, Grove, Riemann, and from their biographies and memoirs innumerable?
Hugo Riemann and Hans von Bulow, may have outstripped him, but as a whole his editing is amazing for its exactitude, scholarship, fertility in novel fingerings and sympathetic insight in phrasing. This edition appeared at Moscow from 1873 to 1876. The twenty-seven studies of Chopin have been separately edited by Riemann and Von Bulow.
It is a fine, healthy technical test, it is brilliant, and the coda is very dramatic. Ten bars before the return of the theme there is a stiff digital hedge for the student. A veritable lance of tone is this study, if justly poised. Riemann has his own ideas of the phrasing of the following one, the fifth and familiar "Black Key" etude.
The latter is the preferable. Klindworth gives 72 to the half note as his metronomic marking, Riemann only 60 which is too slow while Klindworth contents himself by marking a simple Vivace. Regarding the fingering one may say that all tastes are pleased in these three editions. Klindworth's is the easiest.
Judge of what is true editorial sciolism when I tell you that Riemann who evidently believes in a rigid melodic structure has inserted an E flat at the end of bar four, thus maiming the tender, elusive quality of Chopin's theme. This is cruelly pedantic.
In his notes to the F major study Theodor Kullak expatiates at length upon his favorite idea that Chopin must not be played according to his metronomic markings. The original autograph gives 96 to the half, the Tellefsen edition 88, Klindworth 80, Von Bulow 89, Mikuli 88, and Riemann the same.
Riemann breaks up the phrase in the bass figure, but I cannot see the gain on the musical side. Niecks truthfully calls the fourth prelude in E minor "a little poem, the exquisitely sweet, languid pensiveness of which defies description. The composer seems to be absorbed in the narrow sphere of his ego, from which the wide, noisy world is for the time shut out."