CHOPIN Frédéric, Waltz in A minor Op.34 No.2
Chopin’s three Grandes valses brillantes Op. 34 were published in 1838. The second waltz in the set suggests that the collective title was a misnomer. Chronologically, it was the first to be composed, probably in 1831, and rather than ‘brilliant’, the mood is lacrymose and melancholic. Marked ‘Lento’, it opens with a melody in the left hand that seems to wander disconsolately, before giving way to an idea in the right hand, at first halting but eventually taking wing. Two brief episodes in A major hint at something more hopeful, but at the end, Chopin returns to the left-hand melody from the opening, and the piece fizzles out in a state of despair.
Nigel Simeone, 2021