A case may be made for the Op. 42 as Chopin’s most perfect valse. After the first measures of trill, a call to the dance, there is a melody with a rare lilt composed in double time, with the triple time of the waltz in the left hand. Schumann remarked that “like his earlier waltzes it is a salon piece of the noblest kind.” The composition, Schumann feels, should be danced to only by “countesses at least.” This waltz is the most demanding technically of the series.
Chopin’s official title for the piece is the Grande Valse Nouvelle pour le piano, Op. 42. There’s a fascinating detail of its publication history available at Chopin First Editions Online.
Click on the piano to hear it played live at a Chopin Project concert by Artistic Director Arthur Greene.
Want to play it yourself? Get the score at the Sheet Music Archive.