Voluttà del ballo, Op. 154, PP.95.8

When I met Giacomo Mologni (director of the community band in Lecco) at the train station, I asked him "The waltz, is it pretty?" He answered "No, it is magnificent!"

This (likely) final work composed for the band in Cremona may have been impelled to greatness as Ponchielli likely realized the new version of Promessi sposi was going to be a success that would raise him to the highest levels of music in Italy. Further, even lacking a date, the "ultimate" instrumentation of the band marks this as a late work. One of the trumpets has been moved to flugelhorn, creating a timbre that Ponchielli had promoted since his time in Piacenza.

The title of the work is a bit risqué, with "voluttá" expressing "sensual (sexual?) pleasure." A further inspection of the etymology of this word elicits "voluptuous" as another synonym. Keeping this in mind, try to recall the best waltzes of the Strauss family, and you will soon hear that "Pleasure of the Dance" is the equal, if not superior to that of that august family.

It consists of six waltzes, preceded by a 6/8 introduction, and an extended coda in which all six waltzes return one last time. In the inspired direction of Maestro Mologni (formerly principal trombone of the Milan radio orchestra) the tempos ebbed and flowed in an organic whole that surely had its roots in the Viennese waltz tradition. Like all of Ponchielli's scores, none of this is indicated in the score.

The Vienna Philharmonic should program thia for one of the New Year's concerts. It's that good.

Date on score: Friday, June 14, 1872

Performances: Tuesday, June 25, 1872, Piazza Garibaldi; Sunday, September 8, 1872, Piazza Cavour; Sunday, June 1, 1873, Piazza Cavour;


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