Recorded on 01/20/2010, uploaded on 03/05/2011
Musician's or Publisher's Notes
Published posthumously in 1868, the Waltz in E minor was composed quite early, in 1830, shortly before Chopin left his native Poland for Vienna. The waltz remained a foreign musical form to Chopin. His early waltzes, particularly those he composed after reaching Vienna, show an effort to assimilate the Viennese style. Indeed, some of them have such charming and flowing melodies one could imagine them possibly serving as accompaniment to the dance itself. Many, on the other hand, show the undeniable pull of Chopin’s Polish background resulting in music meant only for the concert stage and, in some cases, waltzes in name only. The Waltz in E minor, though an early waltz, stands somewhere in the middle of this spectrum.
Opening with eight measures of the tonic triad, beginning quietly and swelling into a dramatic forte, the waltz settles into a playful, and somewhat mischievous sounding, first melody. The following strain, however, slips into a moment of melancholy with its chromatically descending bass and introduction of foreign harmonies. In the usual ternary form expected of the dance, the middle episode changes to the key of the tonic major and presents a dreamy and lyrical tune. Uncertainty and despair, with fortissimo chords and scalar passages welling up from the lower notes of the piano, briefly counter the otherwise benign expression of the trio. Rounding out the form, the first melody returns yet the section is cut abruptly short by the coda. Impetuously, the coda, through a series of arpeggios, drives the waltz to its conclusion. Full-voiced tonic and dominant chords then end the waltz in a dramatic tone. Joseph DuBose
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