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Suite in C major for violin and piano

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1. Jour de fête – 2. Idylle (ou Sous la ramée) – 3. Cortège champêtre

This Suite for violin and piano is dated 1926, but movement titles in common with those of a Piano Trio written in 1908 (now lost) indicate that it may derive from the latter. The sources that have come down to us show moreover that Mel Bonis changed the titles of the movements of this composition several times. The abundance of themes, her experiments with rhythm (syncopations in Jour de fête) and harmony (use of a whole-tone scale in Idylle) and the frequent changes of style, would seem to indicate that Bonis was seeking a new manner. The work begins with an appropriately brilliant movement, in which by chance we hear the Spanish-style idioms that were then in vogue in French music. Idylle, which is as long as the other two movements, takes the time to develop a melody. The brief Cortège champêtre, with its rustic flavour, provides the brightness one expects of a finale, but it ends piano. Cultivating the pastoral vein that was later to inspire Scènes de la forêt for flute, horn and piano (1927), the Suite for violin and piano recalls the “character pieces” of French Baroque. Unlike Mel Bonis’s other suites, which are accessible to amateur instrumentalists, this one is technically more demanding. It remained in manuscript form until 2006, when it was published by Furore, and it was not given in concert until 26 February 1927, when it was performed by one of the violinists of the Zighera Quartet – probably Léon Zighera – with the pianist Marguerite Moreau-Leroy, in the auditorium of the Paris Conservatoire.


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