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EVENT ‣ Renaud Capuçon: Honoring heathcare workers with Internet concert

Contributed by Clara Zicaro

To honor doctors and nurses, the famed violinist Renaud Capuçon joined with fellow musicians to perform the last movement of The Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saëns.

The context

Following a disastrous tour in Berlin, Saint-Saëns composed The Carnival of the Animals in 1886, while visiting Austria. It was first performed at a private concert given by the cellist Charles Lebouc onShrove Tuesday, 9 March 1886, and it has been been interpreted only twice. The French Romantic composer was concerned to break his “serious” image. He decided to publish it posthumously. The only distributed movement was its famous cello solo “The Swan” in 1887. The complete work

was released in December 1921, and performed in concert to the public on 25 February 1922. Since his death Carnival has become a most acclaimed piece along with his Third Symphony.

Why Saint-Saëns chose the title

His objective was was to make people laugh, so he decided to create a satirical suite of 14 movements inspired by one or several animals. The piece consists of 14 movements forming a suite, and utilizes two pianos, a xylophone, strings, glass harmonica, clarinet, and flute.

A quick analysis

This musical work belongs to the French tradition of pastiche. Saint-Saëns was influenced by Romantic composers such as Berlioz, Mendelssohn and Liszt. Some of movements bring to light lions roaring or cackling of hens and roosters. Others include quotations from well-known renditions and parodies such as Offenbach’s operetta Orpheus in the Underworld (can-can) and Berlioz’s pieces Dance of the Sylphs and The Damnation of Faust. The famous and peaceful theme from Aquarium evokes fairy tales. The orchestration is varied by movement. For the last one, the orchestra is complete. The final is a resume of all fourteen movements. We hear the lion from the first movement, the can-can theme from the fourth, and six braying from the donkeys, portraying that the animal enjoys the last laugh, and is followed by a final group of C major chords.

Carnival today

Nowadays, Carnival is a classical suite especially intended for children and providing an inspiration to many authors writing humorous texts such those of Francis Blanche in 2007 and Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt in 2014. The movement Aquarium was often used in France for Decathlon advertising. The introduction of this same movement is aired before each film at the Palais des Festivals in Cannes.

Take this opportunity to lull with the movement “The Swan” interpreted by Gauthier Capuçon.

Learn more about The Carnival of the Animals at https://pad.philharmoniedeparis.fr/0775652-le-carnaval-des-animaux-saint-saens.aspx#

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