Album information

Around Christmas

Lewis H. Redner (1831-1908)
Arr. A. Bareil
1. Saint-Louis (O Little Town of Bethlehem)
Lewis H. Redner was an organist from the United States who also worked in real-estate. On Christmas Eve 1868, he set the poem of Pastor Philip Brooks, O Little Town of Bethlehem, to music, using a Christmas hymn he had previously composed entitled St. Louis. While in the U.S. this melody is generally used for O Little Town of Bethlehem, in England, Forest Green, adapted by Ralph Vaughan Williams, is the more usual melody.
Traditionnel anglais / English traditional
Arr. A. Bareil
2. A New Northern Dittye of the Lady Greene Sleeves
Lady Greensleeves is an English melody that needs no introduction. Dating from the 16th century, it is harmonized here with Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev’s Sonata No. 1, finished in 1946. He described the scene as “the wind blowing between the tombstones,” heightening the already nostalgic and melancholy nature of the English traditional song.
Franz Xaver Gruber (1787–1863)
Arr. A. Bareil
3. Stille Nacht (Sainte Nuit / Silent Night)
The great classic by the Austrian priests Joseph Mohr and Franz Xaver Gruber, Stille Nacht was composed in Oberndorf, a small village located a few kilometres north of Salzburg. Here, Gruber’s melody has a graceful accompaniment reminiscent of old music boxes.

Traditionnel anglais / English traditional
Arr. A. Bareil
4. Are You Going To Scarborough Fair?
Are You Going to Scarborough Fair? is taken from a traditional late-medieval English song popularized by Simon & Garfunkel in the 1960s. The piece explores different harmonies and textures, some of which recall a medieval aesthetic.
Antoine Bareil
5. Trois jours avant Noël
The rondo-like Trois jours avant Noël is a work written especially for this recording. The theme is built like a traditional song, with four-measure symmetrical antecedent and consequent phrases. A middle section in the Lydian mode leads to a third, calmer, theme that, with a long crescendo, takes us back again at last to the main theme.

Traditionnel catalan / Catalan traditional
Arr. A. Bareil
6. El noi de la mare
A Catalan folk song dating from the 16th century, El noi de la mare is arranged here in two parts. The first is inspired by the version of Miguel Llobet (1878–1938) and made popular largely by guitarist Andrés Segovia. To accompany the harp, I imagined a birdsong-like countermelody on the violin. The second part uses the Dorian mode, giving it a decidedly American colour. El noi de la mare may be the last piece Segovia ever played; Llobet’s version was on his music stand upon his death in 1987.
Ferrucio Busoni (1866-1924)
Arr. A. Bareil
7. Nuit de Noël
Composed in December 1908, Nuit de Noël is chock full of carillon-imitating effects. In the middle is a quote from O Sanctissima, a Catholic hymn to the Virgin Mary generally thought to come from Sicily and that has been set many times. Nuit de Noël stands out as one of Busoni’s most detailed experiments, after his Sonatine No. 4 “in diem nativitatis Christi,” which also evokes bells and which shares this central rustic pastorale. Nuit de Noël is dedicated to Frida Kindler (1879–1964), a talented pianist and one of Busoni’s favourite students.
Traditionnel français / French traditional
Arr. Antoine Bareil
8. Veni, Veni Emmanuel
Veni, Veni Emmanuel comes from Gregorian plainchant dating as far back as the 8th century. Originally in French but later translated into Latin, its popularity grew with the English version by John Mason Neale in the middle of the 19th century. Revisited numerous times by both classical and popular composers and artists, this arrangement covers all the piece’s periods, originally intended for Advent rather than Christmas.
Traditionnel québécois / Quebec traditional
Arr. A.Bareil
9. Mon merle: Variations pour violon et harpe
A must in Quebec, Mon merle is a cumulative song, where our robin in turn loses its beak, wings, eyes, and so on. The harp part takes its origins in a vocal transcription by J. A. Thompson, over which the violin develops a long countermelody that makes references to Oscar Rieding, J. S. Bach, and Eugène Ysaÿe.

Antoine Bareil
D’après / After F.-A. Gevaert
10. Entre le bœuf et l’âne gris
Entre le boeuf et l’âne gris is a traditional French song often attributed to Belgian composer François-Auguste Gevaert (1828–1908) but that actually dates from the 16th century. After the theme is introduced, it is played in a number of musical styles that take us on a trip through time: romantic, minimalist, medieval, and classical. The medieval version leads to a quote of “Tourdion,” published by Pierre Attaignant around 1530, and it is then concealed in the “Lacrymosa” from the Requiem of W. A. Mozart.
Traditionnel anglais / English traditional
Arr. A.Bareil
11. God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen is an English folksong from the 18th century whose melody is in the Aeolian mode. After a statement in unison, it is played in canon. The violin then weaves an accompaniment based on the interval of a fifth that makes up the first two notes of the melody, before launching into Noël nouvelet, a well-known traditional French carol from the 15th century.

Charles Gounod (1818-1893) / Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
12. Méditation sur le Premier Prélude de piano de J. S. Bach (Ave Maria)
Published in 1853, this melody was first improvised on the piano by Gounod then transcribed by Pierre-Joseph-Guillaume Zimmermann, his teacher and future father-in-law. The latter arranged it for violin or cello with a piano or harmonium accompaniment, and later gave the melody to the voice by adapting the Latin version of the text Ave Maria. So one could almost say that Charles Gounod never actually composed his Ave Maria!

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Valérie Milot
Antoine Bareil
AN 2 9982
AN 2 9982

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