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Valses intimes (Théodore Dubois)




Unlike other composers, Théodore Dubois did not over-exploit the waltz: he made infrequent use of it here and there in his works, and produced a small handful of collections cultivating the iconic dance of the Romantic era. Published in 1909, and dedicated to the pianist Georges de Lausnay and his wife, his Valses intimes probably owe the adjective in their title to their brevity, the clarity of a style that eschews virtuosity and their delicate elegance of tone. However, although the last piece creeps away on tiptoe, triple piano, these waltzes are not just expressions of intimacy. This is particularly noticeable in the chromatic rhapsodies of No. 2, the passion of No. 3, and the chords punctuating the ends of phrases in No. 5. Furthermore, Dubois may well have devised his sequence of dances as a cycle, which is suggested in particular by the tonal path. The work, which begins in A flat major, also finishes in the same key. The relationship between the keys in the central movements of the work is either the major third or the relative key (E major for No. 2, C sharp minor for No. 3 – the only piece in a minor mode –, A major and D flat major for Nos. 4 and 5). In addition, it is worth noting the unity of tempo (between 60 and 69 bpm), the penultimate waltz being the only one played at a slighter quicker speed (78 beats per dotted minim). The plethora of hemiolas (emphasis on duple time when the bar is in triple time) plays a unifying role in this work, reinforced by certain motifs which pass almost imperceptibly from one piece to another: the anacrusis of the last waltz, for example, comes from the previous piece.

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  • DUBOIS, Théodore (1837-1924)
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  • Piano – La « pièce de genre » pianistique