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Romance op. 51 (Camille Saint-Saëns)

Date

1877

Text

On the death of Albert Libon (1876) — a friend of Camille Saint-Saëns and the dedicatee of Le Timbre d’argent — the composer was left in his will the sum of 100,000 francs, intended both to pay for the composition of a Requiem in his memory (opus 54) and to free the musician from his obligations as organist at the Madeleine. This legacy boosted Saint-Saëns’s production. Completed and published in 1877, the Romance for Cello with Piano Accompaniment op. 51 in D major was written for the Belgian virtuoso Adolphe Fischer (1847–1891), the dedicatee and first performer that same year of Édouard Lalo’s Concerto for Cello and Orchestra. In keeping with the codes of the genre, this short Romance highlights the singing quality of the solo instrument, whose range is constantly amplified by a leaping piano accompaniment reflecting the Belle Époque aesthetics. The cello’s sonority, however, occasionally inspired Saint-Saëns to go back to the Baroque period. Apparently trying to escape the four-square banality of a simple melody, the soloist sketches a series of arpeggios and then a virtuoso cadenza before returning to his subject. Paul Taffanel was the first to recognize the piece’s potential for wind instruments. In 1887, while on tour in Russia with the pianist-composer, he proposed a transcription for flute, soon to be followed by arrangements for oboe, bassoon (both by Théophile Lalliet in 1890), violin (by Raphael Diaz-Albetini in 1906) and clarinet (by Alfred Piguet in 1912).

    Person - 1
  • SAINT-SAËNS, Camille (1835-1921)
  • Themes - 2
  • Instruments à cordes – L’École française de violoncelle
  • Strings – The Romantic cello