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Danse ancienne op. 75 (Cécile Chaminade)




The vogue for ancient music is nothing new. After its advent towards the end of the 18th century, it played a part in the rediscovery of various past masterpieces (which enjoyed renewed popularity) and the composition of a plethora of minuets, gavottes or madrigals. There was no escaping its influence, from Berlioz (L’Enfance du Christ) to Ravel (Pavane pour une infante défunte). Chaminade, who privately studied piano with Le Couppey, harmony with Savard and composition with Benjamin Godard, was passionate about her profitable virtuoso career: “My love,” she said, “is music, I’m its nun, its vestal virgin”. Very popular in Anglo-Saxon countries, Chaminade performed her own music, so new pieces were composed to change the content of her programmes. Dated 1893, like the Pièce dans le style ancien, op. 74, this Danse ancienne was not aiming for authenticity or intended to be a pastiche, so there is no  sign of a gavotte, bourrée or rigadoon. The “ancient” style instead referred to a certain formality in the writing and a grandiloquence or piquancy that could be dignified or embellished by performance. One can imagine what Cécile Chaminade’s elegant and incisive style of playing might have brought to this dance in A major with its central Aminor section. The regular rhythmic figures, sprinkled with triplets then ascending runs to maintain the momentum, are continually interchanged and varied to keep the listener’s attention. The woman whom Bizet called “my young Mozart” certainly knew which models to use.

    Person - 1
  • CHAMINADE, Cécile (1857-1944)
  • Themes - 3
  • Women composers
  • Danse – Danse et musique française au XIXe siècle
  • Piano – Fin-de-siècle Romantic Piano Music