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Beaux Jours, Les (Marie Jaëll)




1. Calme d’un beau jour – 2. Berger et Bergère – 3. Murmures des forêts – 4. Incendie de broussailles – 5. Tocsin – 6. Les Senteurs du jasmin – 7. Murmures du ruisseau – 8. Après la valse – 9. Aimable badinage – 10. Le Pâtre et l’Écho – 11. On rit – 12. On rêve au mauvais temps


Marie Jaëll composed Les Jours pluvieux and Les Beaux Jours (Rainy days and Fine days) in 1894; these two piano cycles of twelve pieces apiece were dedicated to the Spalding children, the first pupils on whom Jaëll tried out her Méthode de piano. She assigned the bad weather to the boys Ruy and Jimmy and the sunshine to the sisters Kitty, Dudie and Fibbie. The pedagogical purpose of the works may be seen in the brevity of the numbers, the poetic atmospheres intended to develop the imagination, the unification of each piece by a single compositional principle (as in numerous études), the attention paid to the needs of small hands (light textures, reduced hand-spans) and the choice of keys often rich in alterations that permit a better balance of the hands (with the exception of the delicate ‘Scents of jasmine’ in F sharp major, no.6): A major for nos.1 (‘Calm of a fine day’), 7 (‘Murmurs of the stream’), 8 (‘After the waltz’) and 11 (‘We laugh’); E major for nos. 2 (‘Shepherd and shepherdess’), 4 (‘Brush fire’), 10 (‘The shepherd boy and the echo’); G sharp minor for no.12 (‘Dreaming of bad weather’). These sharp keys are contrasted with ‘Forest murmurs’ (no.3) in B flat major (a tritone distant from no.4, a dissonant interval that suggests the possible consequences of the fire that has broken out in the forest) and ‘Pleasant banter’ (no.9) in an ingenuous G major. As to ‘Tocsin’, it is probably the most unusual piece in the collection, based entirely on the harmony F-A flat-C flat-E flat; this technical device stylises the bells that warn of danger. But one must assume that Jaëll’s pupils were already skilled pianists, for ‘Brush fire’ and ‘Murmurs of the stream’ are written for nimble fingers.

    Work - 1
  • Jours pluvieux, Les (Marie Jaëll)
  • Person - 1
  • JAËLL, Marie (1846-1925)
  • Themes - 4
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