Recorded on 12/31/1969, uploaded on 10/20/2009
Musician's or Publisher's Notes
Recorded in 1938. Transferred from a 78 rpm record.
Yakov Flier was one of the greatest Soviet pianists of the 20th century. Many music lovers think that his playing was on a level with that of Emil Gilels and Sviatoslav Richter. Problems with his right hand interrupted his career for 10 year. Read Yakov Flier's biography here.
The waltz was a foreign musical form to Polish-born Frédéric Chopin. During his brief stay in Vienna, at which time the waltz was particularly fashionable, Chopin wrote home to his parents, “I have acquired nothing of that which is specifically Viennese by nature, and accordingly I am still unable to play waltzes.” Nevertheless, Chopin composed around twenty waltzes throughout his career. His early attempts at the genre are very much in keeping with the traditional Viennese dance with melodies that could rival those of The Waltz King himself. Though these initial specimens maintain much of waltz’s character and rhythms, Chopin eventually began to infuse the dance with the influences of his own Polish background, treating the dance more as a mere framework upon which to build around. These later waltzes often exceed the prescribed tempo for the dance, their rhythms sometimes encroach upon those of the mazurka, and even at times their mood is far removed from the typical ebullient character of the waltz.
The first two waltzes of Chopin’s opus 34 interestingly bridge the gap between these early and later waltzes. Composed during 1834-38, they are sometimes referred to as “Grand valse brilliante,” though this title is usually reserved for only the opus 18 Waltz in E-flat. The first of the set, nevertheless, well deserves the title. In A-flat major, it is a fine example of Chopin’s attempts at imitating the Viennese waltz style. Like its predecessor, the A-flat major waltz also begins with fanfare, thought here four times as long, prior to the first melody. The entire waltz, in its various melodies, is lively and elegant—well suited to the dancers of that great musical city.
On the other hand, the following waltz in A minor is of an entirely different character. Here, the three-quarter time and off-beat rhythms of the waltz serve merely as a template. The time is slow, marked Lento, and the melody, placed in the middle of the texture, oscillates mournfully around the dominant E. The expressiveness of the melody and the overall somber tone recall many of Chopin’s mazurkas, though the piece is, if only in technical points, a waltz. The doleful A minor melody is contrasted only briefly by an A major section, sixteen bar in length and occurring twice throughout the piece. Each time, however, the melody is immediately repeated back in the minor key. Joseph DuBose
Russian Archival Recording
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