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Variations en forme de chaconne for cello and piano (Fernand de La Tombelle)

Date

1902

Text

It is no wonder that La Tombelle should refer to a past genre, given that this professor at the Schola Cantorum was a renowned organist and played Couperin and Rameau at a time when France was taking repeated measures to promote the ancient masters. In addition to the Variations en forme de chaconne, he composed an Air varié dans le style ancien for violin and piano, as well as a “Toccata dans le style ancien” included in the Suite d’orgue pour le temps de Noël. The “theme” of his variations for cello and piano is formed of two four-bar phrases, whose harmonic structure (a variation of the descending tetrachord followed by a cadential formula) serves as a basis for the score. This structure was to remain recognisable despite being subjected to various transformations and developments. As the theme is in 9/8, it does not contain the typical rhythmic cell for the Baroque chaconne (with the stress on the second beat, as in the saraband). But this emphasis can be felt clearly in certain variations (for example, in the piano part of the second). The beginning of the work is striking for its ornamental arabesques played mainly by the cello, featuring an improvisation on the harmonic scheme. As the variations unfold, the writing becomes increasingly complex until the two instrumental parts are particularly virtuosic (in accordance with the idioms of a Post-Romantic style of writing). This piece gave Gaston Courras, cellist at the Paris Opéra, the chance to shine when he first performed it on 23 February 1902, with the composer at the piano.

    Person - 1
  • LA TOMBELLE, Fernand de (1854-1928)
  • Themes - 2
  • Instruments à cordes – L’École française de violoncelle
  • Strings – The Romantic cello