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Frédéric Chopin

The Trois Valses, Op. 64 (published in 1847) were the last set of such works to be published during Frédéric Chopin's lifetime and were among the very last works sketched by his prodigious pen before his disease rendered further work impossible. Each of the three is among the shortest of his entries in the waltz form, making them entirely unsuitable for effective use in the ballroom, a use that at this stage in his life, would have been unthinkable to the composer. They are, rather than actual dances, dance-poems that reflect the weakened composer's attitudes from three very different points of view. It is as if Chopin's latter-day musical personality were put through a prism, with the light of the resulting, rather distinct persona cast upon three separate sheets of music-paper...

More subdued (and strikingly Slavic in tone, with undercurrents of mazurka-rhythm mingling with the characteristic waltz figure) is the Valse in C sharp minor, Op. 64/2, that follows. Although the opening is marked Tempo giusto, one hardly ever hears this work played without a heavy dose of rubato. The "veiled melancholy," as Huneker called it, of the primary melody is unrivalled among Chopin's works. The sad protagonist is called to the dance floor by a spinning passage in running eighth notes (which returns two times throughout the piece, each time its tiny antecedent-consequent phrase pair being stated twice), while the piu lento, D flat major middle section offers some consolation.

-- Blair Johnston, All Music Guide