When Bart Feller asked me to write a work for flute and harp, I immediately came up with the idea of doing a piece made up of waltzes. Why waltzes? Why not?
I have been an enthusiastic adult ballet student since the summer of 1988. Dancing to live music, especially the waltz, has been a joy. This hobby of mine has inevitably drawn me to the history of ballet. Some years ago, I wrote a duo, “Dark Angels,” for viola and cello. Apropos of my interest in dance and music, I matched each movement with a danseur of international renown: Nijinsky, Nureyev & Baryshnikov.
For this flute and harp work‐‐‐more delicate and lyrical in its instrumentation‐‐‐I have decided to bring back from history the four Romantic ballerinas featured in the infamous “Pas de quatre” divertissement choreographed by Jules Perrot in 1845 and presented at Her Majesty’s Theater in London: Marie Taglioni, Fanny Cerrito, Carlotta Grisi and Lucile Grahn. According to ballet lore, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were in attendance at the premiere.
In Waltzes, opus 101, each ballerina is paired with a movement, or “waltz.” The quotation marks indicate that some of these waltzes are pseudo‐types‐‐‐distant relations to the genre. Nevertheless, the triple meter is a dominant feature.
The first waltz, “Dream Landscape,” is Marie Taglioni‐‐‐the original La Sylphide‐‐‐who was known for her ethereality.
The second movement, “Waltzin,’” is Fanny Cerrito, who danced with flair, bravura and abandon.
The third waltz, “Lullaby,” is Carlotta Grisi, the original Giselle, who “danced with a perfection, a lightness, a boldness, a chaste and refined seductiveness ... ”
The last waltz is Lucile Grahn, a proponent of the Bournonville school, who was admired for her “natural grace, elevation, suppleness, energy, technical virtuosity and strong mime.”
Commissioned by flutist Bart Feller.
Premiere performance by Bart Feller and harpist Victoria Drake.
October 20, 2002
Saint Peter's Church
New York City, New York
released July 11, 2017
Sarah Brady, flute and alto flute
Ina Zdorovetchi, harp
Music by Thomas Oboe Lee
Recorded in the Fraser Studio @ WGBH
June 21, 2017
Antonio Oliart, audio engineer and editor
Photo credit: Thomas Oboe Lee
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