Tablet - Portrait

Tablet - Landscape


Frédéric Chopin

Viennese waltz style was a thing almost entirely foreign to Frédéric Chopin, and when the Polish-born, Parisian-based composer returned from a journey to the Austrian capital he declared to a friend that, "I have acquired nothing of that which is specially Viennese by nature, and accordingly I am still unable to play valses." To Chopin, as a result, it was left to reinvent the form on his own terms (though a certain debt to Weber's Invitation to the Dance is apparent). Chopin's very individualized waltz output falls easily into two categories: sparkling, highly ornamented little jewels suitable for actual ballroom use, or more purely musical miniatures that are far removed indeed from the fashionable Viennese waltzes of his time. The Trois Valses brillantes, Op.34 contains one example of the former category (the first of the group) and two of the latter (the second and third). The third waltz of the group, the Valse brillante in F major, Op.34, No.3, is more rightfully deserving of the "brillante" description than its immediate predecessor. Although quick (marked Vivace) and energetic, this is hardly a work that would find favor among elite nineteenth-century dancers (it is, among other things, far too short). The waltz is not characterized by any particularly distinct thematic material; rather, its perpetual motion is driven forward in a seemingly improvisatory way. The pungent appoggiaturas contained in the fourth section of the piece have earned the Waltz the nickname the "Cat Valse" (as the legend, totally unsubstantiated, goes, Chopin's cat hopped up on the keyboard, his little paws striking the first notes of this passage). A buzz of witty activity draws the work to a close.