Friday, November 20, 2009

Waltz-song recomposition

This is a continuation of yesterday's post on embodied shapes and schemata. If, as I wrote there, the persistent counterpoint of soprano and alto in this zärtliche Walzer is an astonishing evocation of the physicality of the standard waltz step, then we should feel comfortable representing this "sweet dancing" by means of text, as well.

Schubert as painter and poet of love is the effect that I have put into a song version of the A-major waltz (see graphic at the end of this post; first phrase only). Waltz-songs, especially for chorus, were common by mid-century (Brahms's two sets of Liebeslieder Walzer are obvious examples; but the Blue Danube is prominent among concert waltzes to which texts were also set and publicly performed). Schubert may be said to have anticipated that practice with a waltz perfectly suited to song.

Oddly enough, all this suggests a step away from the physicality of the dance – a portrait or a remembrance of the dance, not the dance. This distancing comes about because of the A-major waltz's metric peculiarities; now it seems like a pause in the dance, isolated yet again from the dances that surround it in D779.