Movement 1: Tumulté dans l'Olympe précédant l'arrivée de Molière
Movement 2: Molière reçu par les Muses
Movement 3: Hommage de Lully et des Violons du Roy
Movement 4: Molière welcomed by his characters 1
Movement 5: Molière welcomed by his characters 2
Movement 6: Allegresse générale
The Milhauds left America in August 1947 and arrived in France the following month. They spent almost a year in Europe, during which time Milhaud composed his tenth ballet, ’Adame Miroir, and his most personal response to his return home, the suite for four pianos, Paris (not premiered until 1962). However, in July 1948 Milhaud was back in the USA to participate at that year’s Tanglewood Festival. There he composed L’apothéose de Molière for small orchestra with harpsichord, a suite in five movements on themes by Baptiste Anet, along the lines of Richard Strauss’s Dance Suite after Couperin. The first year following Milhaud’s return to Europe set the pattern for his life for some time to come: several months of teaching, composition and performances, based in California (where, at Mills College, he had taught throughout the war), followed by a similar period in France. Consequently, Milhaud found himself writing music in one continent for performance in another. This was the case with L’apothéose de Molière, commissioned by Italian Radio for a chamber ensemble of the RAI Orchestra who were to participate in the 1948 Capri Festival under their then chief conductor Carlo Maria Giulini, who gave the first performance on 15 September that year.
Baptiste Anet (c1676–1755) was a noted French violinist and composer, a pupil of Corelli and, like his father Jean-Baptiste, a member of the ‘24 Violons du Roi’ (the ‘king’ being Louis XIV). He published three sets of sonatas for violin and continuo in 1729, among other works, and in 1935 Milhaud had made a ‘free transcription’ of the tenth of these sonatas, for violin and piano, which he catalogued as his Op 144. The violinist Yvonne Astruc, the soloist in the premiere of Milhaud’s Concertino de printemps in March 1935, gave the first performance of the ‘transcription’ of the Anet sonata the following November with Milhaud accompanying.
The resultant L’apothéose de Molière is a captivating work of the greatest refinement and elegance, an essence of Gallic charm expressed through the coming-together of four great French artists – Lully (court composer to Louis XIV), Anet, Molière and Milhaud. Such expression is achieved through but one aspect, exemplified by all four works on this album, of Darius Milhaud’s multi-faceted creative genius.
from notes by Robert Matthew-Walker © 1992