Movement 1: Shéhérazade
Movement 2: Tanris le bouffon
Movement 3: La Sérénade de Don Juan
‘Tantris the Clown’ is based on Ernst Hardt’s distortion of the Tristan legend and it clearly aims to depict in musical terms the grotesque antics of a crazed lover. Analogies with Pierrot Lunaire are tempting, but in purely musical terms the piece is closer to Ravel’s Alborado del gracioso. Amidst the crisp rhythmic patterns and points of sharp dissonance, both the ‘love’ theme from ‘Shéhérazade’ and a new theme are subject to wicked distortion. Bitonal elements play an important part in this distortion and in the harmony of the piece as a whole and they are prominent in the final cadence.
‘Don Juan’s Serenade’ opens with an extended passage of quasi-improvised character, promoting the required atmosphere of fantasy, but at the same time establishing some of the building blocks of the piece, from the characteristic white-note/black-note bitonality to the thematic cell out of which the main melody, with its Spanish-Arabic character, eventually grows. The melody itself comprises two separate components and the main body of the piece consists of alternating transformations of them. The serenade grows more impassioned and urgent as it develops, eventually leading smoothly to a return of the introductory cadenza.
from notes by Jim Samson © 1991