of 1912 is formed of three contrasting character-pieces. Prémice
(prelude, starting-point), gentle and wistful apart from a surge of passion near the end, shows Saint-Saëns’s continuing interest in unusual metres and rhythms. It is predominantly in 5/4 time (still fairly uncommon in 1912) whose ambiguities are exploited to make a delightfully flexible melodic line. The introductory passage for piano, however, suggests a quite different metre, of seven, quicker, quaver beats, so that it is some time before the true pulse of the music emerges. Triptyque
was dedicated to Queen Elizabeth of the Belgians, herself a violinist, which perhaps explains the second piece’s title, Vision congolaise
, whose modal inflexions, habanera-style rhythms and lazy tropical atmosphere recall the Havanaise
for violin and orchestra of twenty-five years earlier. Joyeuseté
is a brisk scherzo, virtually monothematic and notable for its sustained energy and vigour.
from notes by Duncan Druce © 1999