Saturday, January 17, 2009

February 28th 2009, Van Ness & Sacramento, SF 8pm

Two Orchestral Waltzes for Lynne
1. Ludmilla Waltz
2. Empress Waltz

"The waltz, in fact, is magnificently improper - the art of tone turned bawdy. I venture to say that the compositions of one man alone, Johann Strauss II, have lured more fair young creatures to lamentable complaisance than all the hypodermic syringes of all the white slave scouts since the fall of the Western Empire. There is something about a waltz that is simply irresistible. Try it on the fattest and sedatest or even upon the thinnest and most acidulous of women and she will be ready, in ten minutes, for a stealthy kiss behind the door - nay, she will forthwith impart the embarrassing news that her husband misunderstands her, and drinks too much, and cannot appreciate Maeterlinck, and is going to Cleveland, 0., on business to-morrow..."  from H.L. Mencken, Prejudices, Second Series.

The two waltzes here are written for my inamorata, and reflect two of her most beguiling facets, the first: as the fallen Russian aristocrat, the woman of a certain expectation lacking the allowance that would sanction it; the second: as the haughty and dominating sovereign, unwilling to brook any usurpation of her ultimate and crushing authority. Popularly, waltzes are thought of as dances in 3/4 time, but the word waltz merely means a revolving dance, as both words come from the same root, and many dances named waltzes over the last few centuries have been in a variety of meters: 2/4, 3/4, 6/8, 5/4.  But in the end, composers get to call their works whatever they want, so, while the first soi-disant waltz is in 3/4, it is hardly a dance at all, more a concert statement of unbridled passion, discords and all, and the second, while primarily in a fast 3/4 with shifts to 2/4, carries us away in a whirl, a flash of ankle as the ball gown spins up, bodies pressed against each other, a fevered head falling to a shoulder in a swoon of sweet and utter surrender.

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