At the turn of the 19th century, Paris hosted composers from all Europe, notably the young Romanian prodigy Georges Enescu. Trained by Fauré and Gedalge – like Ravel was – he built his own language, between folkloric music and eastern traditions. At that time, the Parisian audience was overjoyed with romanticism with Saint-Saëns’ compositions, and gradually opened to modern languages, such as that of the unclassifiable Debussy.
ENESCU, Poème roumain op.1
DEBUSSY, Première suite
SAINT-SAËNS, Concerto no.3 pour violon et orchestre en si mineur op.61
RAVEL, La Valse
François-Xavier Roth, conductor
Corul Regal, choir
Eduard Dinu, choirmaster
Simone Lamsma, violin
From 1895 to 1899, the young musician and prodigal composer Georges Enescu was at the Conservatoire de Paris, alongside with Martin Marsick, Ambroise Thomas, Théodore Dubois, André Gédalge, Jules Massenet and Gabriel Fauré. Enescu’s musical language draws from Romanian folklore, nostalgic – “doïnas” – and dancing at once, but was also strongly influenced by French and German traditions. His Poème Roumain, presented in 1898, had a great success. Georges Enescu defended a free, modern, challenging music, like a musical hyphen between Western and Eastern Europe. In André Gédalge and Gabriel Fauré’s courses, he met Maurice Ravel, who would become one of the greatest orchestraters of all times. The latter composed the choreographic poem La Valse between 1919 and 1920, considering it as a “fantastical and fatal swirl”. Despite Ravel’s tireless work, La Valse did not convince its purchaser, Diaghilev, to include it in the Ballets Russes : “La Valse is a masterpiece, but it is not a ballet. It is the painting of a ballet.” Maurice Ravel has his own style, at the crossroads of the various masters from whom he draws his inspiration : Liszt, Chabrier, Satie, Fauré and Debussy. He explained: “When I heard for the first time l’Après-midi d’un faune, I understood what music was made of.” The profound uniqueness of Debussy’s style rose the admiration of the composer : he uses Wagnerian harmonies and instrumentations, a moussorgskian quality of expression, Satie’s false naivety. The Première Suite pour orchestre (1883) is a witness of the exceptional character of Debussy’s compositions. Still at the conservatoire, he demonstrated great inventiveness and technicity : a luminous, refined, exotic orchestration was unveiled. As to Saint-Saëns, he was considered to be a classical composer in this end of the 19th century, but nonetheless stimulating. An excellent organ and piano player, he taught to Fauré and Messager. He especially raises the admiration of Liszt, Berlioz or Bülow. His Concerto n°3 for violin and romantic orchestra was destined to the virtuoso violinist Pablo de Sarasate. It was created in 1880 in Hambourg. Followed triumphant tours around the world : Europe, far West, South America and North Africa.