|No. 358 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT eries of audio montages can be found in our archives at https://archive.org/details/pcast358|
As a prolific composer I his own right, his compositions are influenced by jazz and Brazilian music and make extensive use of polytonality. Two of the works on today’s program exemplify these influences most directly: La création du monde (a ballet for small orchestra with solo saxophone, influenced by jazz), and Scaramouche (a suite for two pianos later adapted for orchestra, also for alto saxophone or clarinet).
The Little (Chamber) Symphony No. 2, was written for chamber orchestra, consisting of flute, English horn, bassoon, violin, viola, cello, and double bass. Milhaud composed this piece in 1918, fairly early in his composing career, while he was still employed as a secretary to the French ambassador to Brazil. Milhaud wrote this short symphony at sea, during a return voyage to France. Influences of Latin American rhythms and references to South America’s picturesque landscape are present throughout the piece.
Milhaud was living in Brazil when he completed Les Choéphores (The Libation Bearers) in 1916. This work forms the middle part of Milhaud's Orestian trilogy, written in collaboration with the poet Paul Claudel. Les Choéphores is set for vocal soloists, chorus, orchestra, and a battery of percussion instruments; it is divided into seven scenes: As is the case with Berlioz's La Damnation de Faust, the work is neither wholly opera nor cantata, but combines elements of both forms.
Milhaud composed his Concerto pour batterie et petit orchestre in Paris in 1929-30 —it was written as an examination piece for a Belgian music school. It is set for a single percussionist, using a vast array of instruments and accompanied by modest orchestral forces. Milhaud provided a map with the score, indicating the percussion components and their layout: the piece requires the soloist to be completely encircled by instruments, including four timpani, tom-toms, cymbals and suspended cymbals, a bass drum with a cymbal attachment on a foot pedal, castanets, ratchet, slapstick, triangle, cowbell, tambourine and wood block. The Concerto is remarkable not for the rhythmic virtuosity of its solo part, but rather for the demands it makes on the solo percussionist to simply navigate all of the instruments.
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