Monday, September 16, 2019

End of Summer Coup

Such fun!  My summer students performed Saint-Saens' Carnival of the Animals yesterday evening, to the delight of all in attendance.  We had been working on it all summer.  Each of my students had a part, even the adults!  What a coup!  This was a first for me, children and adult students playing for each other.  I was so pleased with everyone's performance, from the Royal Lions to the Swans, from the Characters with Long Ears to the Fossils, the Elephants and the salmon-pink Japanese Angel Fish.  The Swan was played especially well, truly evoking a swan gliding on a pond in the silver moonlight, and brought a tear to my eye.

Originally scored for two pianos, two violins, viola, cello, double bass, flute (and piccolo), clarinet C and B), glass harmonica, and xylophoneSaint-Saens wrote the orchestral version in 1886, as a joke really.  He was deeply immersed in his Symphony #3 and needed a diversion.  He allowed only one performance in March 1886.  It was not until after he died that the manuscript was rediscovered, and it has been a favorite of concert-goers ever since!  

Hans-Gunter Heumann composed our piano arrangement, and Vicco von Bulow (better known as LORIOT) provided the narrative.  One note from the score, "In the opinion of Saint-Saens, pianists are a strange, almost animal-like species, playing endless, boring scales with the utmost seriousness."  The beginning student assigned this role was unable to attend, so I took that part.  I think my students were impressed by the utmost seriousness with which I executed those scales!

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