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Le carnaval d'Aix, Op 83b

'Milhaud: Le Carnaval d'Aix & other works' (CDH55168)
Milhaud: Le Carnaval d'Aix & other works
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Movement 01: Le corso
Movement 02: Tartaglia
Movement 03: Isabelle
Movement 04: Rosetta
Movement 05: Le bon et le mauvais tuteur
Movement 06: Corviello
Movement 07: Le capitaine Cartuccia
Movement 08: Polichinelle
Movement 09: Polka
Movement 10: Cinzio
Movement 11: Souvenir de Rio: Tango
Movement 12: Final

Le carnaval d'Aix, Op 83b
During his first engagements in America in 1922, Milhaud had given the premiere of his Ballade for piano and orchestra with Dirk Foch conducting the New York City Symphony. The tour had been largely arranged by Robert Schmitz, the French pianist and conductor who emigrated to the USA during World War I and founded the Pro Musica Society. In May 1914, Schmitz had given the premiere of Milhaud’s First Symphonic Suite, Op 12, in Paris. Schmitz set up a second US tour for Milhaud in 1926, and Milhaud’s fame was such that Willem Mengelberg and the New York Philharmonic as well as Serge Koussevitsky and the Boston Symphony both wanted him to appear. A new work was needed for the composer as soloist, so Milhaud took twelve of the seventeen items of Salade, revising them along the lines of Saint-Saëns’ by now well-known composition, as Le carnaval d’Aix, the fourth of Milhaud’s eleven works for piano and orchestra. The first New York performances in December 1926 under Mengelberg were followed by others in Boston under Koussevitsky.

In Le carnaval d’Aix Milhaud did not invariably follow the sequence of the original ballet and he added a solo cadenza to the berceuse-like depiction of the character of Rosetta. There is an element of affectionate parody in some of the movements, ‘Tartaglia’ and ‘Le capitaine Cartuccia’ especially, and the ‘Souvenir de Rio’ almost pokes fun at his own Saudades in a tango and maxice. The good humour of this concertante piece has ensured its place as the most endearing of Milhaud’s compositions in the genre.

from notes by Robert Matthew-Walker © 1992

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