Menuet Pompeux - Emmanuel Chabrier

by Justin Bird



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From Chabrier's set of 10 charming and picturesque piano pieces "Pièces pittoresques", Menuet Pompeux (Pompous Minuet) is a panoply of color and pomp. Dedicated to Gabrielle Petitdemange, Chabrier looks backward in the G minor minuet with an Auvergnat-like dance, and wistful the G major trio is a nod to the 18th century. Pièces pittoresques was composed in 1880, while on a convalescent holiday at the coastal resort of Saint-Pair (near Granville). César Franck, at their premiere in 1881, remarked that those present had "just heard something exceptional. This music links our own time to that of Couperin and Rameau". Between 1881 and 1888 Chabrier orchestrated four of the pieces to form the Suite pastorale. Ravel orchestrated Menuet Pompeux in 1919 for the Ballets Russes which in a wonderful tribute brings to life the already orchestral piano writing Chabrier exuded.

Alexis Emmanuel Chabrier (1841 – 1894) was a French Romantic composer and pianist. Although known primarily for two of his orchestral works, España and Joyeuse marche, he left an important corpus of operas (including L'étoile), songs, and piano music. He was admired by composers as diverse as Debussy, Ravel, Richard Strauss, Satie, Schmitt, Stravinsky, and the group of composers known as Les six. Stravinsky alluded to España in his ballet Petrushka; Gustav Mahler called España "the beginnings of modern music" and alluded to the "Dance Villageoise" in the Rondo Burleske movement of his Ninth Symphony. Ravel wrote that the opening bars of Le roi malgré lui changed the course of harmony in France, Poulenc wrote a biography of the composer, and Richard Strauss conducted the first staged performance of Chabrier's incomplete opera Briséïs.

Chabrier was also associated with some of the leading writers and painters of his time. He was especially friendly with the painters Claude Monet and Édouard Manet, and collected Impressionist paintings before Impressionism became fashionable. A number of such paintings from his personal collection are now housed in some of the world's leading art museums.


released May 13, 2017


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Justin Bird Auckland, New Zealand

Justin Bird is an award-winning classical pianist, teacher, tuner, collaborator, and arranger from New Zealand. His fresh interpretations include an affinity for underrated repertoire.

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