Aux armes, musiciens, le jour de gloire est arrivé!
Well, it’s only been 230 years since the French revolution and apart from “La Marseillaise”, our programme this Summer, Mesdames et Messieurs, will examine works by foreign composers who came to Paris for inspiration and add some “Je ne sais quoi” – that’s english for “French touch”, to some of their most famous works!
Let’s have a closer look, in chronological order…
Le Galop Infernal (Cancan)
Nearly 100 years after the French Revolution, Jacques Offenbach, a German composer well established in Paris, presents his comic opera “Orpheus in the Underworld” who featured not only quotes of the “Marseillaise”, but also the iconic “Galop infernal”, later reprised by Parisian cabarets such as the Moulin Rouge and the Folies Bergères to accompany their Cancan dancers.
Here’s a bunch of Covent garden musicians having fun. Don’t try this at home!
The Rite of Spring
Let’s be honest. Stravinsky’s masterpiece from 1913 still remain unchallenged as it is a complicated, ground breaking, complex and demanding work for performers and listeners alike. Instead, we’ll play a much simpler arrangement, the “LITE of Spring”!
The Rite was the 3rd of three commissions for a Russian ballet company in Paris. It created an outrage at its premiere, chairs were flying! The music wasn’t the culprit, it was the dancing depicting scenes of Pagan Russia. Luckily for us, time passed by and it finally got the appreciation it deserved!
Here are two iconic movements from the first part – “Augurs of Spring” and the “Spring Rounds”
We’ll round up our tribute to the Russian maestro with the finale from the “Firebird”, below as featured in Disney’s “Fantasia”:
An American in Paris
Composed in 1928 by George Gershwin after visiting Maurice Ravel, the 3 movement piece is an evocation of the buzz and lifestyle of the French capital, written for orchestra and….automobile horn! We will play bits of the first part and the bluesy second movement.
Below is Gustavo Dudamel is his usual smiling form, conducting the LA Philarmonic:
A few years later, helped by brother Ira, Gershwin will go on to compose his most famous opera, Porgy and Bess, from which the ballad “summertime” emerged as a standard for classical and jazz audiences. Covered by all vocalist, arranged in all possible formats and orchestration, this simple and catchy lullaby is an amazing platform for improvisation.
Here’s stellar trumpeter Miles Davis, just a few months before he died in 1991, playing the arrangement written for his band in the 50’s by Gil Evans. Look out for the rising star Kenny Garrett on Alto saxophone…