At the height of it's popularity, the Venezuelan waltz was the musical centerpiece of fashionable gatherings in Caracas where musicians rarely performed the compositions exactly as written. Instead, they improvised, and over time, composers began to write new waltzes solely as melodies, understanding that musicians would modify them. The popularity of the waltz in Venezuela gave birth to the joropo, now considered a prototypical Venezuelan dance form. The waltz's reign continued until World War I when it gave way to other musical influences, many from North America. Pianist Josu Gallastegui was born in the Basque region of Spain, but lived in Venezuela as an adolescent and began his professional musical career there. In Venezuelan Waltzes and Joropos, he brings together music he originally recorded in Caracas in the 1970s with new selections recorded in 2005. Now living and working in Spain, Gallastegui has performed as a soloist with major orchestras throughout Latin America, the United States, Europe, and in the former Soviet Union. Reviewers have noted the "great precision, sensitivity, and transparent quality" of his performances. Composer Aram Khachaturian, attending one of his Moscow concerts, called him "a very sensitive pianist and an extraordinary accompanist."