Part 1: L'Île des Sirènes
Part 2: Calypso
Part 3: Nausicaa
‘Calypso’, the second of the Métopes, portrays the daughter of Atlas who personifies the depths of the sea and who kept Odysseus on the island of Ortygia for seven years. A recurring refrain-like melody in the composer’s favourite ‘narrative’ manner—a 6/8 metre with dotted rhythm—is surrounded by a ‘bitonality’ of white and black notes evoking the sea. The indebtedness to Debussy (Brouillards) and Ravel (Jeux d’eau) will be apparent.
The relatively static character of these two pieces is balanced by the third of the Métopes, ‘Nausicaa’, depicting the dancing of Nausicaa and the Phaecian maidens who discover Odysseus after his shipwreck. Stylizations of the dance are common in middle-period Szymanowski (many pieces are about the dance) and ‘Nausicaa’ is closely related to several dance pieces from earlier song-cycles. As in these pieces, the element of stylization grows stronger as the piece develops, with subtle rhythmic dislocations of the basic metre, so that by the end the dance features have been submerged totally. There are closing cyclic references to the lyre-like patterns from ‘Isle of the Sirens’ and to the white-note/black-note figuration and refrain melody from ‘Calypso’.
from notes by Jim Samson © 1991