Le compositeur italien Aldo Finzi est nÃ© en 1897... Une bonne annÃ©e pour Ã©crire une musique sur l'Ã©popÃ©e de Cyrano...
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The form of the symphonic poem, not very frequent in the catalogue of Italian composers between the two world wars, was greatly favoured by Finzi, who loved vast musical frescoes, a many-coloured orchestra and the splendour of timbric contrast, as is witnessed by this Cirano, the Cadet of Gascony sung by Rostand in his elegant and brilliant and successful play.
Finzi builds his Cirano in three ample movements which follow one another without solution of continuity: a first part heroic in character (the cadet of Gascony) characterized by a ringing motive entrusted to the horns, which will return several times, cleverly varied in the course of the piece; a second section lyrically open, where the theme of Cirano, one of the most felicitous ideas of the work, expands in the sounds of the violins in the acute register, and a third part (the kiss, which Cirano, on the point of death culls on Roxane's lips) which shows a motive singularly analogous to Cirano's theme, as if to express the identification in the person of the Gascon of his nature of infallible swordsman and that of passionate and ill-starred lover.
The second section is preceded by a grotesque passage, in which Cirano's theme is deformed by sharp dissonances, in the pungent timbres of the low clarinet and of the bassoons' ?staccato?; it seems correct to surmise the intention to hint at the famous ?nose? which marred the face of the swordsman, implacable punisher of anyone who dared hint at it. The poem ends by dying out in ?pp? sounds. Cirano dies and ?I leave to the world my white plume!?) in an atmosphere of intimate emotion.
Great orchestra, three wood-winds, brass instruments to the full, two harps, strings and very plentiful percussion; beside the traditional instruments also the rare sistrum ( a percussion instrument of very ancient origin ; the modern sistrum consists in a sort of small table vibraphone); sole example of this instrument being used in art music. Finzi uses it with touches of sophisticated elegance.
Cirano performed in world premiÃ¨re at the Maggio Musicale in Florence in 1929, conducted by Gui, was enthusiastically welcomed by the audience that went so far as to ask insistently for an encore, which however was not granted; a very unusual thing for a symphonic piece, particularly a modern one. So the audience proved to share the favourable judgement which a commission which included Toscanini, Alfano and Pizzetti had given of the work.
Gian Paolo Sanzog