Friday, April 5, 2013

Montage # 99 - C’est légendaire

As of May 3rd6, 2013, this montage will no longer be available on Pod-O-Matic. It can be heard or downloaded from the Internet Archive at the following address / A compter du 3 mai 2013, ce montage ne sera plus disponible en baladodiffusion Pod-O-Matic. Il peut être téléchargé ou entendu au site Internet Archive à l'adresse suivante:

pcast099- Playlist

===================================================================== English Commentary – le commentaire français suit

According to, the word “legend” has several related meanings:

legend today may be someone of noted celebrity, with larger-than-life accomplishments, whose fame is well-known. In that meaning, the phrase that comes to mind is “legend in his (or her) own mind”.

The term legend is also used synonymously with mythtall tale, and history. In that sense, a legend is a literary genre.

Two of the specific works I have retrained fall in the second category, that is to say that it is a tale (tall or not) that has been passed from one generation to another. The ancient Greek legend of the Gordian Knot tells the story of a poor peasant called Gordius and his wife arriving n a public square of Phrygia in an ox cart. As chance would have it, so the legend continues, an oracle had previously informed the populace that their future king would come into town riding in a wagon. Seeing Gordius, therefore, the people made him king. In gratitude, Gordius dedicated his ox cart to Zeus, tying it up with a highly intricate knot – thus the name. It was also foretold that the person who untied the knot would rule all of Asia.

The problem of untying the Gordian knot resisted all attempted solutions until the year 333 B.C., when Alexander the Great -- not known for his lack of ambition when it came to ruling Asia -- cut through it with a sword. Cheat!

Henry Purcell is known for several important works written for the royal family and for his church anthems and other liturgical music. But in the last several years of his life (1659? - 1695) he was more active in the theater than in any other sort of venue. After his death, the 13 sets of theatrical music he wrote after 1690 were assembled as a large publication called A Collection of Ayres, Compos'd for the Theatre, and upon other Occasions (London, 1697).

Publishes as part of that collection, we know little of The Gordian Knot Unty'd -- we don't even know the name of playwright of the stage play that was presented in 1691. But it is charming and ahead of its time.

Speaking of tall tales, The Kalevala is a 19th-century work of epic poetry compiled by Elias Lönnrot from Finnish and Karelian oral folklore and mythology.It is regarded as the national epic of Finland and is one of the most significant works of Finnish literature. The Kalevala played an instrumental role in the development of the Finnish national identity, the intensification of Finland's language strife and the growing sense of nationality that ultimately led to Finland's independence from Russia in 1917.

As one would expect, music is the area which shows the richest influence from The Kalevala, which is apt considering the way that the folk poetry and songs were originally performed. Jean Sibelius, considered worldwide as Finland’s most famous composer,  is also the best known Kalevala influenced classical composer. Twelve of Sibelius' best known works are based upon and influenced by The Kalevala, including his Kullervo, a tone poem for soprano, baritone, chorus and orchestra that he composed in 1892 and my selection for this montage the Lemminkäinen Suite

Originally conceived as a mythological opera, Veneen luominen (The Building of the Boat), on a scale matching those by Richard Wagner, Sibelius later changed his musical goals and the work became an orchestral piece in four movements. The suite is based on the character Lemminkäinen from the Finnish national epic, the Kalevala. The piece can also be considered a collection of symphonic poems. The third section, The Swan of Tuonela, is often heard separately.

Between the original version of 1893 and the 1940’s, Sibelius revised many of the sections, even tinkering with their order. I chose to use an earlier version of the final section for this montage.

The remaining works in the montage are orchestral works that simply bear the name legend: a tone poem by Canadian composer Hector Gratton, a concert piece (indeed subtitked a Conzertstück with a “C”…) by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and one of the many legfends for piano four hands that Dvorak later orchestrated.

I think you will love this music too!orchestrated.

I think you will love this music too!

Commentaire français

Notre thème pour le mois d'avril s'intitule "Raconte-moi une histoire", et notre premier montage de la série se concentre sur les légendes, ces histoires qui sont passées d'une génération à l'autre de par une tradition oratoire, et qui souvent font part d'exploits extraordinaires.

La pi;ce maîtresse du montage est la suite Lemminkäinen  de Jean Sibelius, une séquence de quatre tableaux - des poèmes symphoniques - qui s'inspirent de la mythologie Finlandaise. De ces quatre poèmes, le cygne de Tuolena est sans doute le plus connu. L'écoute des quatre volets ajoute donc trois sections qui sont moins usitées, mais tout aussi imaginatives et pleines de moments savoureux.

L'autre musique qui représente une légende est du compositeur barique Anglais Henry Purcell: sa musique de scène pour l'obscure pièce (aujourd'hui anonyme) The Gordian Knot Unty'd qui devait sans doute se rapporter à la légende Grecque du noeud Gordien. Le nœud gordien est resté dans le langage pour caractériser une difficulté qu'on ne peut résoudre, un obstacle qu'on ne peut vaincre. Se tirer d'embarras par un moyen expéditif et vigoureux, c'est trancher le nœud gordien.

Ah ! C’est un grand malheur, quand on a le cœur tendre,
Que ce lien de fer que la nature a mis
Entre l'âme et le corps, ces frères ennemis!
Ce qui m'étonne, moi, c'est que Dieu l'ait permis.
Voilà le nœud gordien qu'il fallait qu'Alexandre
Rompît de son épée et réduisît en cendre.
(Alfred de Musset.)
Pour compléter le montage, des oeuvres musicales qui ont pour titre "légende", du compositeur Canadien Hector Gratton, du compositeur Anglais Samuel Coleridge-Taylor et une des nombreuse légendes originalement pour piano quatre mains orchestrées par Dvorak.

Bonne écoute!