SchmWaltzing it

Schmaltz? Sure, but great schmaltz! Apfelstrudel, Sachertorte, Waltz, Esterhazytorte — which is the odd one out? Why, Esterhazytorte of course! (They’re all sweet and delicious confections, but Esterhazytorte comes from Budapest.) The Viennese waltz took the musical world by storm, and it wasn’t just the Strausses and the Lehárs who had a monopoly. Beethoven, Schubert, […]

Cztery tańce polskie [four Polish dances]

While Chopin’s lifetime predates the rise of ethnomusicology  (he wasn’t a Cecil Sharp or Béla Bartók) there’s certainly no denying the profound influence that the music, and particularly the dance music, of his native Poland had on his work. Many dances – polonaises, mazurkas − are explicitly acknowledged in titles; but even elsewhere (the two piano concertos […]

Lydian

We heard last week how Mussorgsky used the Lydian mode to ‘flavour’ the Polish dance in Boris Godunov. Chopin, particularly in the mazurkas, is full of such modal flavourings. Here (at a slowish tempo) are two versions of the central section of his mazurka Op. 68 No. 3. The first example is what Chopin actually wrote: […]