Frédéric Chopin

Waltzes (3) for piano, Op. 64, CT. 212-214

    Description by Blair Johnston

    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.

    The Valse in D flat major, Op. 64/1, popularly known as the "Minute Waltz," is the only of the three which could conceivably be followed by mortal feet (it provides less opportunity for soloistic rubato than either of its companions). It must certainly not be played at such speed that it would actually be completed within a minute's time! Because the work is the technically most conquerable of all Chopin's waltzes, this work has lost some of its freshness through uncounted performances by pianists of lesser skill. It is, nevertheless, a work of enduring charm. A spinning little melodic cell (the pitches A flat, B flat, C, and the raised fourth scale degree, G natural), at first a seemingly rambling, aimless fragment, works its way seamlessly into the primary melody of this tiny work (only four pages, and Molto vivace at that). The cantabile of the middle section is Chopin at his most graceful.

    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.

    Chopin's final waltz, the Valse in A flat major, Op. 64/3, is a piece of delicately-poised, Moderato-tempo beauty. It offers neither the whirling glee of Op. 64, No. 1, nor the melancholy of Op. 64, No. 2, but rather a musical item in which the more pure expression of perfect structural and harmonic balance is paramount. The central section (in C major) is a dialogue between two melodic voices.

    Parts/Movements

    1. No. 1 in D flat major "Minute"
    2. No. 2 in C sharp minor
    3. No. 3 in A flat major

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2018 RCA Red Seal 88985499992
    2017 Deutsche Grammophon 4796127
    2017 Erato 0190295869205
    2016 Piano Classics PCLM 0104
    2015 Harmonia Mundi HMC 902199
    2015 Brilliant Classics 95208
    2012 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099970490
    2011 RCA Red Seal 886919369120
    2011 Onyx ONYX 4078
    2011 Bridge BRIDGE 9359
    2011 EMI Classics 5099909879225
    2011 Hyperion CDA 67849
    2010 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099968582
    2010 Deutsche Grammophon 002894778445
    2010 Deutsche Grammophon 477 8095
    2010 Deutsche Grammophon 4778095
    2010 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099945535
    2010 Decca 4782282
    2010 Fryderyk Chopin Institute 19
    2010 Documents / Fab Four / Fab Four 233130
    2009 Deutsche Grammophon 477 7483
    2009 Sony BMG / Sony Classical 88697577072
    2009 Dux Records 650
    2009 EMI Classics
    2009 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099969835
    2009 Bella Musica / Zebralution
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 EMI Classics 13251
    2009 Romeo Entertainment 7271
    2009 Romeo Entertainment ROMEO7271
    2009 Hyperion 67686
    2008 Brilliant Classics 93217
    2008 Warner Classics
    2008 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099951489
    2008 Hyperion 44351
    2007 Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler 4066
    2006 Brana Records 0033
    2006 Brilliant 99802
    2006 EMI Music Distribution 46734
    2006 EMI Music Distribution 50874
    2006 Dux Records 66
    2006 Takt 1501/15
    2005 Transart Live 123
    2005 EMI Classics
    2005 Urania 4229
    2005 Urtext 100653
    2005 Deutsche Grammophon 4775242
    2004 Andante AND1150
    2004 Deutsche Grammophon 000291902
    2004 Brana Records 0017
    2004 Rca Red Seal 59422
    2004 EMI Music Distribution 585012
    2003 Forlane 126817
    2003 Artemis Classics 1187
    2003 EMI Classics
    2003 Decca 470608
    2002 Deutsche Grammophon 469350
    2002 Dutton Laboratories 9715
    2002 London 43947
    2001 Aura Classics 0232
    2001 Musicor 23158
    2001 EMI Music Distribution 74291
    2001 Rca Red Seal 63029
    2000 Arkadia 78509
    2000 Arion 68460
    2000 Claudio 5045-2
    2000 Amadis 7063
    2000 Rca Red Seal 63047
    1999 Deutsche Grammophon 463 047-2GCE17
    1999 Deutsche Grammophon 463 069-2
    1999 Naxos 501501
    1999 Agora Musica 232
    1999 Philips 462874
    1999 Naxos 554539
    1999 Decca 460991
    1999 Philips 456772
    1999 Intersound 3856
    1999 RCA Red Seal 63000
    1998 Vanguard 91
    1998 Dante 053
    1998 Enterprise 264
    1997 Athene 11
    1997 Point Classics 267130
    1997 London 443738
    1996 Vox / Vox Box 5167
    1996 Arabesque 6669
    1996 Olympia (Classical/Jazz) 289
    1995 Classical Heritage 1214
    1995 London
    1995 Seraphim UK 568528
    1995 Vox 8502
    1994 ASV 6149
    1994 Teldec 95499
    1992 Naxos 550365
    1992 Teldec 9031-75857-2
    1991 Sony Music Distribution 46346
    1991 RCA Victor GD60822
    1990 London 414600
    1985 RCA 5492
    1983 Philips 400025
    Dux Records KCh15-06
    Vox 9034
    Philips 468391
    Iron Needle 1341
    London 443947/4
    Analekta 7704
    Philips 426069
    EMI Classics 54416
    DUX 649
    Agora Musica 024
    Ades 20330
    Forlane 16814
    Ricercar 145143
    EMI Music Distribution 74457
    EMI Music Distribution 74457
    Philips 412890
    CBS Records 45670
    RCA 7744
    Decca 417045
    Musical Heritage Society 514334
    Theorema 121208
    RCA 57744
    Brilliant 99802/7
    EMI Classics 74975
    Philips Classics 426828
    Pearl 9457
    RCA Victor 60822
    Bolshoi/BMG
    The Piano Library 206
    Decca 4758046
    Decca 466708