The origins and early history of the waltz are shrouded in obscurity. In its early, more rustic stage, it resembled the ländler. However, by the 1770s the waltz began to appear as a specific form. The dance's gestures appealed to the growing democratic climate of the time, with its lessening of social delineations, but it also created a scandal among conservative thinkers. The graceful, swelling movements were considered lasciviously erotic; surely the waltz was a sign of moral decay.
Vienna was its first outpost, but the waltz craze spread like wildfire throughout Europe. Its 19th-century popularity almost usurped all other dance forms. It was indeed a rarity for a composer not to partake of its measures, and waltzRead more writing paid the rent for many a musician. Johann Strauss Jr. certainly became the wealthiest and most-loved composer of his time. If Brahms and Wagner were musical enemies, they could at least love Strauss together.
Even in our century the waltz captivated. H. L. Mencken wrote: "The waltz never quite goes out of fashion; it is always just around the corner; every now and then it returns with a bang... The popular dances that come and go are too gross to be very dangerous to civilized human beings; they suggest drinking beer out of buckets; the most elemental good taste is proof enough against them. But the waltz! Ah, the waltz, indeed! It is sneaking, insidious, disarming, lovely. It does its work, not like a college-yell or an explosion in a munitions plant, but like the rustle of trees, the murmur of the illimitable sea, the sweet gurgle of a pretty girl... The waltz, in fact, is magnificently improper -- the art of tone turned lubricious."
We have assembled 12 waltzes. Some, such as the Schubert, are of early vintage, others are transcriptions by pianist-composers of familiar and unfamiliar melodies.
Henselt/Friedman: Petite Valse
This combines the effort of two of history's greatest virtuoso pianists. Adolf von Henselt's innocent tune is treated to some additional tinting by Ignaz Friedman, who often used it as an encore. It is dedicated to Mrs. Frederic Steinway.
Friedman has taken a group of Schubert waltzes (after the fashion of Liszt's
Soirées de Vienna), giving them a more complex harmonic and pianistic setting.
Friedman/Gärtner: Viennese Dance No. 1
Eduard Gärtner, an Austrian baritone, wrote a group of waltz tunes which Friedman transformed into a set of six pieces. All are an amalgam of nostagia and elegance, showing Friedman's marvelous keyboard ingenuity.
Schulz-Evler: Concert Arabesques on Themes of "By the Beautiful Blue Danube" by Johann Strauss Jr.
This piece, made famous by Josef Lhevinne, was authored by a Polish pianist (a student of Tausig) who has survived in music history through this elaborate network of pianistic machinations.
Schubert: Three Waltzes from Op. 9
These three pieces (B minor, A-flat, and A-flat) are each in two eight-bar sections. The third waltz was well known as the "Trauer" (mourning) waltz.
Tchaikovsky: Waltz in A-flat major, Op. 40, No. 8
The great Russian master dearly loved waltz writing. He wrote several for solo piano which are entirely balletic in spirit.
Satie: Je te veux (Valse pour le piano)
This work was first composed as a song. Satie later arranged it for piano solo. The French waltz is often slower and more languid than that from Vienna. Satie adds the music-hall flavor of Paris at the turn of the century.
Glazunov: Waltz in D major, Op. 42, No. 4
Like Tchaikovsky, Glazunov also indulged in balletic waltz movements. This example is filled with his melodic charm and polished craft.
Liszt: Valse oubliée No. 1
Liszt wrote four Forgotten Waltzes, this one composed in 1881. Perhaps the enigmatic title finds the old abbé pausing over an amorous moment from his past. The work certainly looks forward harmonically to Scriabin and Debussy. Read less
Simply LovelyMay 3, 2013By Melvin R. Katskee (Omaha, NE)See All My Reviews"This is music of charm and grace, played with just the right touch by two wonderfully gifted pianists. Everyone who loves piano music should get a copy of this CD."Report Abuse