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Quatre Danze pour piano

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1. Danza morbida : Lent – 2. Danza scherzosa : Vif et léger – 3. Danza tenera : Très lent et expressif – 4. Danza animata : Vif

The use of a title in a foreign language, unusual with Cras, is due to the circumstances surrounding the composition of the Quatre Danze, his most difficult piano work. In 1917, the musician was in command of the torpedo boat the Commandant Bory in the Adriatic. Although he was working on the first piece, the principle melody suggested to him the words “danza morbida” (subdued dance). He therefore questioned Fidardo Federico, Commandant of an Italian submarine (and future dedicatee of this Danza), on the exact meaning of the adjective « morbido ». Reassured, he included it in the title of the piece and decided to compose other pieces in order to make up a collection. La Danza scherzosa (dedicated to his sister-in-law), glitters with trills and tremolos, contrasting with the painful sweetness of the first number. It was to his wife that Cras was to offer the Danza tenera, a meditative saraband for which he was looking for pure lines (the most difficult thing to obtain, he admitted). He did think about ending the collection with this piece, but his inspiration remained fertile, he added the Danza animate (dedicated to his friend the journalist and writer, Édouard Schneider). In fact, the succession of the four movements, alternating between slow and fast tempi, recalls the structure of a baroque sonata da Chiesa. Towards the end of the pealing finale, a cadential episode quotes the themes from the three previous dances. Cras had a few doubts about using the cyclic form, fearing it to be outmoded. However, insofar as the thematic echoes came to mind without premeditation, he gave free rein to his inclination. 


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