, published in 1873, was the first significant work. Unlike many composers, whose early works betray quite legitimate influences, Chabrier is immediately himself. It is a classical piece constructed in three parts, the third of which reprises the first, and concludes with a coda. His personality is present in every bar. To begin with note the brief, capricious Spanish-like rhythmic element, which serves as an introduction and reappears at the end of the work. A passage then follows which could be described as the first subject, a sort of tender and syncopated waltz that is followed abruptly by a basically rhythmic second episode, full of typical Chabrier-like dissonances. The second section, charming and languid, is twice interrupted by a sarcastic element, as if Chabrier were ashamed of being sentimental. Again we note syncopated swaying rhythms. The first section is then repeated, followed by a very poetic coda marked ‘with great sweetness’ which restates the theme of the opening section. After a final sarcastic pirouette the work ends on an arpeggio that Chabrier requires to be played ‘with delicacy’. This Impromptu
, dedicated to Mme Édouard Manet, was first performed by Camille Saint-Saëns in 1877.
from notes by Jean-Paul Sévilla © 2006
English: Roland Smithers