Hyperion Records

1911; published 1912; subtitled 24 tone poems in triple time; first performed by Godowsky at the Bechstein Hall, London, on 19 March 1912

'Godowsky: Strauss transcriptions & other waltzes' (CDA67626)
Godowsky: Strauss transcriptions & other waltzes
Buy by post £10.50 CDA67626 
'Hommage à Chopin' (CDA67803)
Hommage à Chopin
Buy by post £10.50 CDA67803 
No 02: Pastell
No 07: Profil 'Chopin'
No 14: Französisch
No 22: Wienerisch
No 24: Portrait—Joh. Str.

Godowsky’s Walzermasken was composed directly after the massive Sonata in E minor of 1911, and was published the following year, the same year as the three Symphonic Metamorphoses. Despite the prosaic subtitle (‘Twenty-four tone poems in triple time’), there is much to admire in these evocative miniatures imbued with the spirit of the Waltz City. The obvious precedent for such musical ‘masked balls’ is Schumann (Papillons, Carnaval and Davidsbündlertänze, for example). Indeed the opening number of Godowsky’s cycle is named Karnaval and many of the others bear equally Schumannesque titles. In some of the pieces, famous composers are masked in affectionate pastiches (Schubert, Brahms, Chopin, Liszt and Johann Strauss); elsewhere Godowsky takes an idiomatic look at the Schuhplattler, Minuet, Berceuse and Humoreske (following Schumann’s lead, the four-note motif of the latter embodies the letters of a little Saxony town, the home of one of Godowsky’s early, unknown, sweethearts).

Godowsky intended the twenty-four Walzermasken to be played as a cycle (Portrait, the final number, quotes the opening theme of Karnaval) and, indeed, he gave the first public performance as such at the Bechstein Hall, London, on 19 March 1912. But he did not oppose the playing of selected pieces, as here. The publication of twelve of the pieces as separate numbers supports this. Pastell (No 2 in A major) is the portrait of Schubert referred to above; Französisch (No 14 in D major) and Wienerisch (No 22 in F major) are short, delightful salon waltzes with similar textures to Godowsky’s Strauss waltz paraphrases; Portrait—Joh. Str. (No 24 in G flat major) is by far the longest of the set and, fittingly, a homage to the Waltz King.

Among the first tasks Godowsky set himself on his return to America was to arrange Französisch and Wienerisch for inclusion in his Twelve Impressions for violin and piano, respectively as Valse in D (No 8) and Viennese (No 12)—both were recorded by Heifetz, the latter also by Kreisler.

from notes by Jeremy Nicholas © 2008

Track-specific metadata
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Details for CDA67626 track 2
No 2: Pastell
Recording date
16 December 2007
Recording venue
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Andrew Keener
Recording engineer
Simon Eadon
Hyperion usage
  1. Godowsky: Strauss transcriptions & other waltzes (CDA67626)
    Disc 1 Track 2
    Release date: August 2008
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