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Romances sans paroles (Charles Gounod)

Date

1849

Description

La Pervenche – Le Ruisseau – Le Soir – Le Calme – Chanson de printemps – Ivy/Le Lierre

Text

La Pervenche (The Periwinkle), a symbol of melancholy, is dated 8 September 1849. The instruction to make the bass line sing out emphasises the extremely original flavour, at that time, of the descending scale underpinning the melody. Probably written at the same time (1849), Le Ruisseau, a symbol of time passing (as can be seen by its fleeting conclusion), is reminiscent of a gondolier’s song; it foreshadows La Veneziana and Fauré’s barcarolles.The melody of Le Soir, composed in Rome in 1840 to six stanzas by Lamartine, was inserted into Sapho (1851) with different words. In 1861, Gounod transcribed the vocal line for solo piano, which did not appear until 1863 with its original words. Its generative idea is the  harmony in fourths and sixths which delays the conclusion that it heralds. The only surviving piece from La Nonne sanglante, Rodolphe’s aria “Un jour plus pur” (from which Gounod took Le Calme in 1862) is preceded by arpeggios in search of the appropriate, almost religious, mood.The harmonious irregularity of the melodic phrasing creates a free, heartfelt expressionof sentiment. Adapted for solo piano in 1866, the Chanson de printemps (1849) appears to double back on itself at every turn, underpinned by a perpetuum mobile of semiquavers, like the murmur of the countryside coming to life. Its charm lies in the shifting equilibrium set up between repeats and variations.The title (Ivy/Le Lierre) of the last piece, whose flowing melody runs back and forth, may well reflect a poem by Dickens recalling the ivy that grows rampantly on ruins and, remaining green, survives them. The house where Ivywas written (around 1872) had once been Dickens’ home.

    Person - 1
  • GOUNOD, Charles (1818-1893)
  • Theme - 1
  • Piano – La « pièce de genre » pianistique