"A pupil of Lipkin, Ax and Firkusny, Avner Arad plays the conventional set of 14 Chopin Waltzes fluidly and elegantly. His pulsation possesses the natural lilt which Rubinstein communicated in Chopin, and the scale has an easy, salon grace. The A-flat major, Op. 34, No. 1 demonstrates Arad’s grand, rubato-laden line and sense of flair. There might be something of Cortot in Arad’s A minor Waltz...The Op. 64 waltzes each retain a light and suave patina, the C-sharp minor and A-flat bearing the touch of melancholy without which Chopin’s idiosyncratic style would be lost. The G-flat major sings with the requisite nostalgia and whimsy as well. The D-flat adds glitter to its rocking gait, and Arad articulates its left-hand troubadour part with lyrical care. The E minor plays like an abbreviated sonata movement, rife with metric and dynamic turbulence. Its bitter-sweet middle section Arad executes with limpid and fastidious passion." [Audiophile Audition - March 2007]
PROGRAM NOTESIsraeli-born pianist Avner Arad has performed throughout North America and Europe as soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician. Highlights of recent seasons have included engagements at Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, Vienna’s Konzerthaus, Cologne’s Kolner Philharmonie, Brussels’ Palais des Beaux Arts, the Kennedy Center, the 92nd Street Y, Merkin Hall, Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, as well as appearances at Ravinia Festival. Mr. Arad was a recipient of Carnegie Hall’s 1998 Distinctive Debuts award. He performed his New York recital debut as winner of the Koussevitsky Memorial Competition, made his Lincoln Center debut with the Juilliard Orchestra, and embarked on his first European tour as winner of the Young Keyboard Artists International Piano Competition. He won the Juilliard School’s Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition twice. After receiving the Sharett Scholarship from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation, Mr. Arad worked with Barry Snyder at the Eastman School of Music. He graduated from the Curtis Institute as a pupil of Seymour Lipkin, and received his master’s degree from the Juilliard School, where he studied with the late Rudolf Firkusny and Emanuel Ax. His critically acclaimed recordings include an all-Schumann album on MSR Classics [MS1001], the piano works of Janacek on Helicon Records, and Bloch’s complete works for violin and piano for OehmsClassics.
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In the mid-18th century the German verb walzen began to be used to describe the turning motion of various triple-meter couple dances. In the 1780s the noun Walzer first appeared in print as a title for such dances, which quickly grew in popularity throughout Europe. It was also toward the end of the 18th century that stylistic distinctions among dances called Walzer, Dreher, Schleifer or Ländler began to emerge as the waltz assumed a more rapid tempo than the folk-oriented Ländler and became particularly associated with the expanding middle class. The immense popularity of the waltz, fueled by its energetic whirling motion and the tight embrace of the couples, elicited condemnation from moralists for the physical proximity of the partners, which often led to kissing and other exchanges of endearment. Concern was also expressed for the physical health of the dancers, who exhausted themselves in its fast pace.
In the early 19th century large new public dance halls opened in Vienna, and dance parties, where the waltz was the fashionable rage, became a fad in the Hapsburg capital, soon spreading to the rest of Europe and eventually to America. During the 1820s and 1830s, the music of Viennese composers Joseph Lanner and Johann Strauss the Elder, whose waltzes circulated widely, in part through the activity of the latter as a touring conductor, led to association of the dance especially with the city of Vienna. The young piano virtuoso Frederick Chopin, residing in the capital in 1830-31, lamented that "Lanner, Strauss and their waltzes obscure everything," though Chopin claimed to have been uninfluenced by Viennese style and "accordingly . . . still unable to play waltzes."
By 1819 waltzes were being published as independent piano pieces, not necessarily tied to dancing. Particularly influential were Carl Maria von Weber’s Invitation to the Dance of that year and the waltzes of Franz Schubert, published in 1821 and 1830. The transference of the waltz from the dance floor to the piano as stylized salon and concert music opened up new and freer possibilities for Chopin, who was able to maintain the general characteristics of the genre while incorporating a more aristocratic tone, a variety of moods, and pianistic virtuosity, unconstrained by the requirements of actual dancing.
Chopin composed waltzes throughout his career, the first few in 1829, at age 19, and the last several in 1847, two years before his death. The opus numbers of his waltzes do not reflect their order of creation, however, since some of the earliest waltzes composed were not published until much later, some in posthumous editions. In most cases, the same opus contains waltzes written at different times in Chopin’s life, such as the two waltzes of Op. 69, no. 1 dating from 1835 and no. 2 from 1829, or the three waltzes of Op. 70, composed in 1832, 1842, and 1829, respectively.
The general stylistic characteristics common to all of Chopin’s waltzes include the 3/4 meter with accentuation of the first beat; multiple sections with differing tempos, melodies, keys, and moods (with the first section and usually others repeated one or more times); whirling motion in the figuration, achieved by quick, tight turning gestures (as in the so-called "Minute Waltz," Op. 64, no. 1) or by moving rapidly up and down the keyboard; and a high level of grace and polish in the melodies, ornamentation, and harmonies. The waltzes range in length from the brief "Minute Waltz" to several waltzes more than three times longer. Some of the waltzes feature slow poetic lyricism, while others emphasize vitality and pianistic brilliance. Several are in minor keys (as were some of Schubert’s published waltzes), and a few of these are melancholic in tone. Others, despite the minor mode, are quite elegant, as in the famous c# minor waltz, Op. 64, no. 2, or bravura in style, as in the early waltz in e minor, Opus Posthumous. Virtuosity is especially prominent in the Grande Valse Brillante, Op. 18, the waltzes, Op. 34 no. 1 and 3, and the Grande Valse, Op. 42. Variety, vivacity, elegance, charm, poignancy, melancholy, sophistication, and glittering radiance are all terms appropriately applied to this dazzling array of compositions. [Dr. Jeffrey Kurtzman]
Waltz in E-flat major, Op.18 ("Grande Waltz Brillante")
Waltz in A-flat major, Op.34 No.1
Waltz in A minor, Op.34 No.2
Waltz in F major, Op.34 No.3
Waltz in A-flat major, Op.42
Waltz in D-flat major, Op.64 No.1
Waltz in C-sharp minor, Op.64 No.2
Waltz in A-flat major, Op.64 No.3
Waltz in A-flat major, Op.69 No.1
Waltz in B minor, Op.69 No.2
Waltz in G-flat major, Op.70 No.1
Waltz in F minor, Op.70 No.2
Waltz in D-flat major, Op.70 No.3
Waltz in E minor, Op. Posth.