Recorded on 04/20/2011, uploaded on 10/26/2011
Musician's or Publisher's Notes
Between the mid-1870s and 1885, Tchaikovsky traveled extensively, roaming the European continent and calling no single place home. This physical wandering, however, was only the outward manifestation of his inner struggle. Conflicted and beleaguered by the shambles of his failed marriage, Tchaikovsky left Russia with his only assurance being the secured income he had from his patroness, Nadezhda von Meck. He lived the life of a recluse, avoiding social contact whenever possible. It was in the final years of this nomadic existence that he composed the Valse Sentimentale, op. 51 no. 6.
Composed during 1882, the Valse Sentimentale was written at Kamenka, where Tchaikovsky was able to enjoy a peaceful and quiet summer. Vaguely reminiscent of the waltzes of Chopin, it is a deeply melancholic creation in F minor. Its opening theme, despite its passionate ascension through the tonic triad, feels somewhat detached at first, as if bearing a burden too great to fully acknowledge. Yet, as it progresses, a pervasive melancholy sets in, which comes to even greater poignancy during the waltz’s trio section. Shifting into the key of the relative major, the trio adopts a quiet, but unsettling, demeanor, with a focus that turns even more inward. The opening waltz returns, removing the listener from the distraught inner world of the trio and sends him back to the detached melancholy with which the piece began. Quietly, almost as if exhausted from its burden, the waltz fades from existence in its final measures. Joseph DuBose
Courtesy of International Music Foundation.
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