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Fantaisie élégiaque op.59 (Fernando Sor)

Date

1835

Description

Introduction : Andante largo – Marche funèbre : Andante moderato

Text

Unlike many Romantic fantasias, this large-scale Fantaisie élégiaque (it lasts more than quarter of an hour) was not designed to show off the transcendental virtuosity of its performer. Nor does it borrow its thematic material from a famous opera. Sor dedicated it to the memory of Mme Beslay, née Levasseur, who died in childbirth on 20 April 1835 (from which we can deduce that the work dates from that year, or possibly 1836). The young woman, the daughter of an officer under Napoleon I, had taken guitar lessons with the composer. She was known above all, however, for her talents as a pianist, which had attracted the attention of Rossini. This may perhaps explain the importance of the operatic register in the elegy she inspired. The Introduction, improvisatory in character, begins with a striking gesture: an arpeggio of the diminished seventh, which at once establishes its tragic mood, subsequently reinforced by the descending chromatic bass and the painful appoggiaturas. This opening exploiting the rhetorical devices of the lament is followed by a long instrumental aria (into which a section in duo texture is inserted). Then the Marche funèbre unfolds its solemn rhythm, though brightened at one point by a new aria, in the major mode, like a poignant recollection of the departed. Towards the end of the piece, two words are written on the score – ‘Charlotte!’, ‘Adieu!’ – likening the guitar to a person with the power of speech. These interjections are answered by ethereal harmonics, as if a voice were replying from the hereafter.

    Person - 1
  • SOR, Fernando (1778-1839)
  • Theme - 1
  • Strings – The guitar in the nineteenth century