The waltzes that Chopin published during his lifetime draw out contrasts between the effervescent emotions and sentimentality that we know to have contributed so much to the fashionableness of the ballroom waltz. This emerges clearly in the first of the published waltzes, the E flat major, Op 18. The main themes of the waltz brim with the bustle of the dance floor: the stirring call to the dance of the introduction, and the rising and falling motion of the opening melodies, which (as the musicologist Eric McKee has persuasively argued) Chopin meant to reflect the spinning motions of dancing couples. The contrasting themes (with melodies in thirds and in the new key of D flat major), on the other hand, have a more reflective lilt (Chopin instructs the pianist to play one of them con anima, and the soulfulness of the melody emerges palpably).
from notes by Jeffrey Kallberg © 2011