Thursday, August 20, 2009

Something for Thursday

Emanuel Chabrier was a French composer at the end of the nineteenth century. He was active at the time when Debussy and Ravel were coming into their own, and Chabrier's voice is a more minor one in the annals of French music, but he wrote vibrant music. His best known work is this musical tribute to the land to France's south. Here's Espana.

Pay close attention to the bassoons at the 1:31 mark -- that's got to be one of the best orchestral passages featuring the bassoons ever. Also of note is the big passage at the 3:35 mark, when Chabrier writes a sparkling passage in which it feels as though the sections of the orchestra are playing in two different time signatures.

I was fortunate enough to play this work in college. It's one of the most infectious pieces I know -- its rhythms, constantly dancelike and always just slightly off-kilter with the beat never quite where we expect it, are pure delight, and there are wonderful melodies at play here as well. I love this piece.


SK Waller said...

That's one fine orchestra, and with Domingo at the helm, perfect. Great review, too. Thanks for starting my day with this!

Thee Earl of Obvious said...

This is the first time I heard this piece. Wow.

Compile and publish please. So many people need the help of your insight to really appreciate this incredible world.

David said...

You're right, at 3:35, first the horns and trumpets, then the clarinets and half of the bassoons, and finally the flutes and piccolos switch from 3/8 to 2/4 time, while everyone else continues in 3/8, building to a climax at 3:46. It's a marvelous way to create the sense of slightly off-kilter and, for a moment, frenzied dance. I can understand why it gave you such delight to play!