I shall not presume to speak of the execution of the D flat Valse; like the rich, it is always with us. It is usually taken at a meaningless, rapid gait. I have heard it played by a genuine Chopin pupil, M. Georges Mathias, and he did not take it prestissimo. He ran up the D flat scale, ending with a sforzato at the top, and gave a variety of nuance to the composition. The cantabile is nearly always delivered with sloppiness of sentiment. This valse has been served up in a highly indigestible condition for concert purposes by Tausig, Joseffy—whose arrangement was the first to be heard here—Theodore Ritter, Rosenthal and Isidor Philipp.
The C sharp minor Valse is the most poetic of all. The first theme has never been excelled by Chopin for a species of veiled melancholy. It is a fascinating, lyrical sorrow, and what Kullak calls the psychologic motivation of the first theme in the curving figure of the second does not relax the spell. A space of clearer skies, warmer, more consoling winds are in the D flat interlude, but the spirit of unrest, ennui returns. The elegiac imprint is unmistakable in this soul dance. The A flat Valse which follows is charming. It is for superior souls who dance with intellectual joy, with the joy that comes of making exquisite patterns and curves. Out of the salon and from its brilliantly lighted spaces the dancers do not wander, do not dance into the darkness and churchyard, as Ehlert imagines of certain other valses.
The two valses in op. 69, three valses, op. 70, and the two remaining valses in E minor and E major, need not detain us. They are posthumous. The first of op. 69 in F minor was composed in 1836; the B minor in 1829; G flat, op. 70, in 1835; F minor in 1843, and D flat major, 1830. The E major and E minor were composed in 1829. Fontana gave these compositions to the world. The F minor Valse, op. 69, No. 1, has a charm of its own. Kullak prints the Fontana and Klindworth variants. This valse is suavely melancholy, but not so melancholy as the B minor of the same opus. It recalls in color the B minor mazurka. Very gay and sprightly is the G flat Valse, op. 70, No. I. The next in F minor has no special physiognomy, while the third in D flat contains, as Niecks points out, germs of the op. 42 and the op. 34 Valses. It recalls to me the D flat study in the supplementary series. The E minor Valse, without opus, is beloved. It is very graceful and not without sentiment. The major part is the early Chopin. The E major Valse is published in the Mikuli edition. It is commonplace, hinting of its composer only in places. Thus ends the collection of valses, not Chopin’s most signal success in art, but a success that has dignified and given beauty to this conventional dance form.