Claude Debussy: La damoiselle élue (The Blessed Damozel) (1887-1888; rev. 1902) 20′
Camille Saint-Saëns: La muse et le poète (The Muse and the Poet) in E minor, Op. 132 (1910) 17′
Manuel de Falla: Noches en los jardines de España (Nights in the Gardens of Spain) (1909-1915) 23′
Maurice Ravel: Piano Concerto for the Left Hand (1929-1930) 19′
Barcelona Symphony Orchestra (OBC)
Bertrand Chamayou, piano
Vlad Stanculeasa, violin
Charles-Antoine Archambault, cello
Marta Mathéu, soprano
Anna Alàs i Jové, mezzo-soprano
Orfeó Català’s young girls choir
Ludovic Morlot, conductor
Following Manuel de Falla’s literal use of folksongs in previous works, Noches en los jardines de España (Nights in the Gardens of Spain), written at a similar time to Siete canciones populares españolas (Seven Popular Spanish Songs) and El amor brujo (Love, the Magician), marked a highpoint in the composer’s mature stage. It was a period that crystallised in the extolment of popular heritage and the recreation of folklore. The inspiration for Noches en los jardines de España was Jardins d’Espanya (Gardens of Spain), a series of paintings by Santiago Rusiñol, with nature neatly organised by man in the foreground and a wild, untamed vision of it in the background, all steeped in an intimate aura of mystery. Originally conceived as four nocturnes for piano, Falla finally wrote three pieces for piano and orchestra, conjuring up endless images as from the first garden (“In the Generalife”): an imagined Granada, only known to Falla back then through the guidebook Granada, an Emotional Guide by María Lejárraga.
Desire and death are the ingredients of La Damoiselle élue (The Blessed Damozel), written by Claude Debussy in the midst of his Wagnerian period: a cantata inspired by a poem by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, which recaptures the evocative atmosphere of both the poem and the oil painting of the same name.
Written in memory of a friend and admirer and premiered by Eugène Ysaÿe and Joseph Hollman at a time when his work had achieved great acclaim, La muse et le poète is a magnificent example of Camille Saint-Saëns’ polished lyrical style, giving soloists broad freedom of expression.
Few piano concertos written during the last one hundred years have such symbolic connotations as Piano Concerto for Left Hand in D major, one of Ravel’s most well-rounded works, composed for pianist Paul Wittgenstein, who had lost his right hand during the First World War.