When choosing this piece for a learner an educator needs to take into consideration the slow waltz character in a lilting triple time with rubato, pedal throughout and expected ornamentation for a piece by Chopin.
The pieces in undoubtedly one of the easiests of Chopin's Waltzes. It was published in 1860, posthumously, that is after the composers death. It was not until 1955 that is was correctly attributed to Chopin. In the Brown indix it is number 150, this means it is the 150th work from the catalogues of Maurice J. E. Brown.
The accompaniment contains the typical Waltz pattern of the principal note being sounded, followed by two chords which are mostly the same with the exception of bars 17 and 21 where the chords change noticeably. Whilst the melody contains some arpeggiation it principally moves in seconds or by leap.
The melodic repetition is apparent in each theme with repeats featuring decoration that is characteristic of Chopin's music. Rhythmic repetition is apparent when different ideas are explored. The piece is predominantly quavers and crotchets. The Rhythmic repetition is dependent upon the melodic repetition to be significant and important.
The shape of the phrase should mimic the human voice with the natural rise and fall of nuance dynamics. The target of each phrase may, or may not, hold the anticipation that the rubato technique provides. Rubato, especially when utilised within this piece, should be applied as if it were chilli sauce, not tomato sauce.
Chopin preferred the Bel Canto style of playing which was recognised in singing, during the eighteenth century as 'beauty and evenness of tone, legato phrasing, and skill in executing highly florid passages'. There are also references to it using portamento, rubato, highly articulated phrasing and the use of gesture to enhance the performance. This should all be considered in the final performance of this short Waltz.
This piece benefits from the use of pedal however the melodic lines still need to be clean and accurate. Practice without the pedal to achieve a sticky legato and accurate note placement.
Although called a Waltz, this little piece is not a physical dance but rather a dance through emotions moving from momentary happiness to a melancholy sadness and back again. Chopin aimed to achieve a 'Bel Canto' sound with his music, the phrases should be approached as if they were sung with the natural rise and fall of dynamics.
Whilst the piece contains pedal and rubation, initial practice without either will be of benefit while the accuracy of note placement, both on the key and in the music, is learnt. The finger patterns chosen should be used consistently to enable fluidity of sound however all finger patterns are suggested and the best option for the learner should be chosen from experimentation and practise rather than because it was shown.
"One needs only to study a certain positioning of the hand in relation to the keys to obtain with ease the most beautiful sounds. To know how to play long notes and short notes and to achieve certain unlimited dexterity. A well formed technique, it seems to me, can control and vary a beautiful sound quality." Chopin. This quote from Chopin sums performance skills up perfectly. A well formed technique will produce the beautiful sound Chopin strove for.
To understand the chord patterns and the use of remote notes in the bass, use the initial lessons to introduce the chord map for the piece, associated scales and how the chords relate to the scales and cadences. This will be of great benefit to the student and show the connections between key, chord and emotion.
An accomplished learner will be confident with a singing melody and accurate placement of decoration. The tempo would be brisk with complementary rubato, dynamics and phrasing. Pedal skills will be clean supportive of the harmonic interaction with the melody.
A satisfying performance will have a triple time rhythm, some dynamics interest and an emerging singing style. Pedal work will be clean and supporting the bass line.
On completion of the learning process an acceptable performance may be a little under time but will have a triple time rhythm with some pedal skills. Some pedal skills will be present but a slight blurring may occur.