Johann Straus II - Vergnügungszug (Pleasure Train), op. 281

Johann Strauss II , known for his waltzes and lively compositions, had a unique approach to his creative process. He consistently sought contemporary and relevant themes to serve as the driving force behind his new musical compositions. This approach ensured that his work remained fresh and connected with the audiences of his time.  One notable instance of this creative approach was the composition of this polka, composed in 1864. This piece of music was specifically crafted for a summer concert held in the picturesque Russian town of Pavlovsk. It's fascinating to note that Strauss drew inspiration for this composition from the world around him. In this case, he found it in the emerging technology of the time, namely, the steam locomotive. The composition itself is a testament to Strauss's ability to capture the essence and energy of the subject matter. The rhythm of this dance piece mirrors the rhythmic chugging and movements of the old-fashioned steam trains that were prevale

Maurice Ravel - Valses nobles et sentimentales


Performance of the ballet "Adélaïde, ou le langage des fleurs" in 1912.

The seven "Valses nobles et sentimentales" and the epilogue of this orchestral suite were originally written for piano in 1911. Maurice Ravel chose the title in homage to Franz Schubert, who had released collections of waltzes in 1823 entitled Valses nobles and Valses sentimentales. 

The work was first presented in Paris in a recital of anonymous compositions. Many of Ravel's fans disapproved of the music, not imagining that the deliberate "wrong notes" belonged to one of the most beloved French composers.

In 1912 Ravel orchestrated the suite and presented it as a ballet under the title "Adélaïde, ou le langage des fleurs (Adelaide: The Language of Flowers).

The dynamic start reminds us that this is an unusual waltz. On the contrary, the second part is slow and expressive. For this lanzy subject, Ravel chose the flute, which plays in its lower extension. With a relaxed oboe melody begins the third part that is more reminiscent of waltz. The music continues without interruption in the next more lively part. The clarinet introduces the dreamy fifth part. Here the rythm of the waltz is more disguised. 

In the short sixth part, the traditional rhythms return. Restless shapes of strings and woodwinds create a gentle climax, while drums make a rare appearance. The music calms down and disappears suddenly, as it began.

A slow introduction with syncopating notes of the horn and harp defines the beginning of the seventh waltz before the music returns to the rhythms of the first part. The music evolves to stand in a dissentful chord. A tender middle section leads to a repetition of the first section.

The last part is slow and expressive. The instruments contrast and intertwine different parts of the melody. The strings play with sourdina and are finally separated. The horn, trumpet and tambourine make a final comment reminiscent of a waltz and a solo clarinet, accompanied by a harp, strings and celesta, quietly completes the work.