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Viennoise op. 49b (Gabriel Pierné)




Subtitled “Suite de Valses et Cortège-Blues”, this piece comes from the Divertissements sur un thème pastoral, op. 49, a work for orchestra successfully premiered on 7 February 1932. “It is hard to know what one should admire more, the balance or the flights of fancy in a work such as this, so logical and so unexpected, so light and so powerful”, wrote Alfred Bruneau in Le Matin. The original version consisted of a set of variations on a theme that completely changes character with the passing  episodes. At the beginning of the second half of the Divertissements, one of the variations slips into waltz time followed by the “Cortège-Blues”. In 1935, Pierné transformed his concert music into a ballet called Images. In order to make the work last longer, he developed the second half. The waltz became a series of short, elegant, sensual dances in which the theme from the Divertissements is barely recognisable. Along with the “Cortège-Blues”, it was published separately as Opus Number 49b, in its symphonic version and in a piano transcription. The second part of the diptych, to be played in “brisk march time”, conjures up the stylish cafés of Montparnasse more than the smoky nightclubs of Harlem: the piece has neither the rhythmic elasticity of Afro-American music, nor its melodic and harmonic colours. However, bracketing a piece of blues (even one very different from its model) with a waltz, marked a transition from Romanticism to the modernity of the interwar period, and the start of a dialogue between old Europe and the New World.

    Person - 1
  • PIERNÉ, Gabriel (1863-1937)
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  • Piano – La « pièce de genre » pianistique