These recordings of Chopin’s Waltzes show Ms. Blumental exploring her Polish background. She has an understanding of the dance forms that inspired Chopin, and the technical agility and artistic intuition which are key to a true performance. (Please Note this is the LP version)
Chopin Waltzes (LP)
Recorded at the height of her artistic maturity, Felicja Blumental’s Chopin recordings stand as a hallmark of great pianism. Blumental was highly respected for her interpretation of Chopin’s work and this collection of waltzes show Blumental exploring her Polish background and demonstrating her technical agility and artistic intuition.
Chopin’s creative imagination and sophisticated technique developed the waltz from that of earlier composers and gave the form an artistic status. Chopin took advantage of the greater possibilities offered by the then-modern instrument to add virtuoso qualities to this dance form. Blumental embraces these virtuoso elements in this recording, offering a combined power and delicacy in her playing alongside rhythmic vitality, which has secured her status as a prolific interpreter of Chopin’s work.
Fryderyk Chopin – Waltzes
Felicja Blumental – piano
- Waltz in E flat major, Op. 18 (4’55)
- Waltz in A flat major, Op. 34, No. 1 (5’00)
- Waltz in A minor, Op. 34, No. 2 (4’38)
- Waltz in F major, Op. 34, No. 3 (2’21)
- Waltz in A flat major, Op. 42 (3’59)
- Waltz in D flat major, Op. 64, No. 1 (“Minute”) (1’47)
- Waltz in C sharp minor, Op. 64, No. 2 (3’24)
- Waltz in A flat major, Op. 64, No. 3 (2’38)
- Waltz in A flat major, Op. 69, No. 1 (“L’adieu”) (3’22)
- Waltz in B minor, Op. 69, No.2 (3’10)
- Waltz in G flat major, Op. 70, No.1 (2’03)
- Waltz in F minor, Op. 70, No.2 (2’27)
- Waltz in D flat major, Op. 70, No.3 (2’24)
- Waltz in E minor (posth.) (2’54)
- Waltz in E major (posth.) (2’07)
- Waltz in A flat major (posth.) (2’18)
- Waltz in E flat major (posth.) (2’18)
Pianists worldwide are attracted to Chopin’s waltzes. They incorporate a range of moods from melancholy to effervescent but retain an air of sophistication suited to aristocratic salons. Chopin composed in this genre throughout his lifetime and his waltzes can be divided into three periods; Warsaw waltzes (composed before he left Poland); early Parisian (between 1831-1835); late (to 1848) when his style had matured. He dedicated his life to the piano, establishing it as a solo instrument and freeing it from orchestral and choral influences. Here is a fine collection of his waltzes, some of his most famous and less well known.
Waltz in E flat major, Op. 18 is a glittering and vivacious waltz. It is a perfect opportunity for a pianist to sparkle in the virtuosic passages, hence its other name “Grand Valse brilliante.” Chopin composed this “Vivo” around 1830 and it bears a dedication to Laura Horsford.
Chopin wrote several waltzes under the title of “Grand Valse Brilliante” and Op. 34, Numbers 1, 2 and 3 are examples of this. Waltz in A flat major, Op. 34, No. 1 (Vivace) was composed in September 1835 and dedicated to J. de Thun-Hohenstein, and requires a particular dexterity. The collective title of these waltzes is a little misleading. Although “brilliante” implies a vivacity, Waltz in A minor, Op. 34, No. 2 is one of Chopin’s more melancholic masterpieces. It bears a dedication to Madame la Baronne C. d’Ivry and the poignant and almost mournful tune brightens into a major key in the middle section.
Another waltz under the title of “Grand Valse Brilliante” was composed in 1838. Waltz No. 3 in F major, Op. 34 (dedicated to Mademoiselle A. d’Eichtal ) is one of his more spirited works. The beginning trill spins off into a perpetual motion and here, Chopin experiments with time signatures (polymetrics), writing the right hand part as if in duple time, while the left, in a traditional triple-time waltz accompaniment.
Chopin also used this technique a couple of years later. Waltz in A flat major, Op. 42 was written in the Spring of 1840 and also begins with a trill but gently eases into a charming theme. His success in writing for the piano and experimenting with metres makes this particular waltz one of Chopin’s more complex and demanding of the collection.
Waltz in D flat major, Op. 64. No. 1 (“Minute”) is probably the most famous of Chopin’s masterpieces, although it would be practically impossible to fit a performance into 60 seconds. Dated around 1846/47, it is also titled “Valse du petit chien,” named after George Sand’s dog, although it is dedicated to Madame la Contesse Delphine Potocka. Chopin was inspired by his lover’s pet to write this short piece when it ran around in circles.
Around the same time, Chopin composed Waltz in C sharp minor, Op. 64 , No. 2 which bears a dedication to Madame la Baronne Nathaniel de Rothschild. The “tempo giusto” guideline is a flexible one. Here, rubato plays an important part in emotional expression, in particular, through the sorrowful melodies in this waltz. This was a technique that Chopin often used at the piano and played an important role in developing flexible and poetic melodies for the piano.
Waltz in A flat major, Op. 64, No. 3 (Moderato) is said to be one of Chopin’s favourites and a piece he himself often performed. It is dedicated to Madame la Comtesse Catherine Branicka and features a melodic bass with accompanying right hand in the middle section (in C major). It flourishes into a spectacular display of scales and chords to close.
Chopin enjoyed a long love affair with novelist, George Sand. Previously, he had fallen in love with a woman by the name of Maria Wodzinska to whom he dedicated his Waltz in A flat major, Op. 69, No. 1. Maria Wodzinska’s father was against a marriage and the couple subsequently parted. This waltz, written in Dresden in 1835 is appropriately titled “L’adieu” and is withdrawn in character.
Waltz in B minor, Op. 69, No. 2 (Moderato) was composed in 1829 and gently weaves between major and minor keys throughout. This is a charming piece with soothing rubato passages. The lively Waltz in G flat major, Op. 70, No. 1 (Molto vivace) was composed in 1833. The leaping melody is reminiscent of folk melodies, with which Chopin became early acquainted in Poland and often used as a source of inspiration, particularly in his mazurkas.
Chopin spent much of his leisure time in the higher echelons of French society and he enjoyed many friendships, hence the dedications of his works. Chopin’s Waltz in F minor, Op. 70, No. 2 is one of two works dedicated to Elise Gavard (he also dedicated Berceuse in D Flat major, Op. 57 to her) and was written later in his life when his compositional technique within this genre had matured considerably.
Melodic lines, chromatic harmonies and dance like rhythms are characteristic of Chopin’s waltzes. However, Waltz in D flat major, Op. 70, No. 3 has slightly different components. Written in October 1829, it incorporates a Lländer-like feel with a charming left-hand melody in the middle. Towards the end, it also hints at polyphony with intertwining melodies.
In 1849, Chopin’s health was failing and he ordered all his incomplete and unpublished manuscripts to be destroyed. Some were also lost but there stands a substantial collection of his waltzes, some of which remain in circulation, but about which there is little historic background.
Here are a further four waltzes by “The Poet of the Piano” of which little of their composition and date is known: Waltz in E minor, E flat major, A flat major and E major.