Ballade No.1

Don't let the coy opening of this Romantic piano work fool you - this one's a firecracker

This epic Chopin ballade takes its time to get going, but once it does you'll be completely swept along.

Chopin initially composed his set of one-movement ballades between 1831 and 1842, and quickly amassed a reputation among jobbing pianists as some of the most difficult pieces out there. And, what's more, the format took hold. After Chopin's example was a success, the likes of Brahms and Liszt decided to write ballades of their own.

But this first entry in the set might be one of the most deceptive pieces Chopin wrote. A doom-laden, intentionally dirge-like opening sets a rather sombre tone to begin with, but it's only temporary. If anything, having such a low-key opening passage makes the pianistic fireworks that follow it all the more impressive. So stick around – it gets better as it goes along.

Classic FM Apps

Get the Classic FM app for iPhone, iPad and Android - now with HD audio

Mozart or Drake?

Quiz: Are you more like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart or Drake?

Tetris accordion

This accordionist plays the Tetris theme for 10 levels and it's really stressful

dinosaur conducts jurassic park

Jurassic Park conducted by an actual dinosaur is hilarious