Celebrated for its elegant and refined music-making, Similia has received many prizes and accolades, including the coveted Prix Félix for Instrumental Album of the Year awarded by ADISQ (Quebec Recording [...]
They spoke about it
The lyrical Sicilienne from the Concerto for violin in B flat Major of Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710-1736) has been described as a precursor to J.S. Bach‘s Sonata for flute in E flat Major. Much like his contemporaries in northern Italy, Pergolesi sought an expressively sentimental tone that was rich in chromaticism and marked by a fragility of texture and balanced phrasing.
Villa-Lobos: Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5
The Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5 of Heitor Villa-Lobos, composed between 1938 and 1945 is one of his best known works. Originally scored for voice and an orchestra of cellos, this particular work comes from a group of nine suites. Inspired by the universal quality that J.S. Bach’s music possesses, Villa-Lobos composed the Bachianas as a homage to the Baroque composer. Here, Villa-Lobos unites the rhythmic and formal procedures of Bach with the vitality and expressiveness of Brazilian music.
Benjamin Godard (1849-1895) was a French violinist who studied at the Paris Conservatoire with Henri Vieuxtemps and developed a reputation for his salon music. The beautiful Berceuse, which is the most popular of his works, springs from Jocelyn, an opera composed in 1888.
Mozart: Andante from Piano Sonata C major K. 545
W.A. Mozart‘s Piano Sonata in C major K. 545 was described by the composer in his thematic catalogue as “a short piano sonata for beginners.” The quality of this music is nostalgic, melancholy and inward looking—undoubtedly due to the fact that its date of composition (6 June, 1788) coincides with the tenth anniversary of his mother’s death.
Massenet: Méditation de Thaïs
Meditation is taken from the symphonic interlude in Act II of Jules Massenet‘s opera Thaïs. The tale, based on a novel dating from 1890 by Anatole France, and set in the fourth century, follows the life of a young courtesan named Thaïs who, with the guidance of the monk Athanaël, decides to abandon her sinful life of debauchery in order to embrace God. This particular interlude represents the young woman’s reflection prior to her conversion. It is this haunting melody that returns at the close of the opera as the repentant Thaïs dies in a convent.
Bizet: Andantino from L’Arlésienne
Georges Bizet composed the incidental music for Alphonse Daudet’s play L’Arlésienne for presentation in Paris in 1872. Of the twenty-seven pieces, Bizet rescored the best of them into two orchestral suites. The music successfully depicts the peasant life of Daudet’s drama which ends in tragedy when the protagonist Frédéri takes his life after experiencing an inability to extinguish his passion for a woman from Arles, known as Arlésienne.
Fauré: Pavane in F sharp minor, Op.50
Gabriel Fauré‘s Pavane in F sharp minor (1887) was composed for a concert in 1887 for Jules Danbé, the conductor of the Opéra-Comique. It was dedicated to the prestigious Countess Greffulhe, who agreed to help Fauré realize a performance with dancing, invisible choir and orchestra. The Pavane was successful in furthering Fauré’s reputation and eventually served as a model for his pupil Ravel and his Pavane pour une infante défunte.
Niccolò Paganini (1782-1840) was one of the most acclaimed violin virtuosos of the nineteenth century. His flamboyant stage presence and technical virtuosity astonished audiences and brought him great fame. The Cantabile in D Major was composed between 1823 and 1824 and dedicated to Paganini’s protégé – the technically brilliant violinist Camillo Sivori of Genoa.
J.S. Bach: Andante from Sonata in E minor
In 1723 Johann Sebastian Bach moved from the court of Prince Leopold at Cöthen to become the cantor of St. Thomas in Leipzig, a position that he held until the end of his life in 1750. It was during this time that he demonstrated an unusual amount of interest in the transverse flute. It is believed that the Sonata in E minor was composed in 1724, a period when Bach’s flute writing was not only concentrated but also technically challenging, possibly indicating that there was a virtuoso flautist visiting in Leipzig.
Elgar: Salut d’Amour Op.12
Edward Elgar‘s Salut d’Amour Op.12 was composed as a tribute to his future wife Caroline Alice Roberts. The work was one of Elgar’s most poorly paid compositions and ironically – one of his most popular works. He had sold the copyright for two guineas, a ridiculously low price since the piece brought his publishers thousands. Elgar was reported to have given half a crown to a street violinist playing Salut d’Amour, bitterly remarking: “It’s more than Elgar ever made out of it!”
Castelnuovo-Tedesco: Sonatina, Op.205
Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco (1895-1969), born in Florence, studied composition with Ildebrando Pizzetti at the Instituto Musicale Cherubini and later settled in California. Composed in 1965 for the flautist Werner Tripp and guitarist Konrad Ragossnig, the Sonatina Op.205 is subdivided into three contrasting movements. Technically demanding, this work is characterized by its mood of spontaneity and lyricism.
Ravel: Pavane pour une infante défunte
Pavane pour une infante défunte has remained, along with Bolero, one of Ravel‘s most publically acclaimed works. Commonly misunderstood as “dead child” (enfant défunte), the title actually refers to a princess (infanta).
The work is not meant to be a funeral piece, but simply an evocation of the old pavan that may have been danced by a princess long ago. Ravel was always disappointed with pianists who consistently played the work too slowly, for according to him, it is the princess, not the pavane, who is dead.
Born in 1962 in Marseille, France, Patrick Roux found his home in Canada in 1967. He studied music at the Conservatoire de Musique du Québec and has received many honours including first place in 1989 at the National Guitar Competition. In 1998 he founded the Canadian Guitar Quartet with Philippe Candelaria. He is a professor of guitar at the Conservatoire de Musique du Québec and teaches at the University of Ottawa. Soledad was composed in 1996.
Composed in 1937 and adapted for flute and guitar in 1954, Jacques Ibert‘s Entr’Acte is clearly influenced by his travels through Spain. Imbued with wit and technical brilliance, it demonstrates Iberian rhythms and harmonic sequences typical of Spanish guitar music.
© 2001 Alexis Luko, for Traçantes, the research, text writing, and translation service of the Société québécoise de recherche en musique.