Paul Max EdlinComposer | Artistic Director | Lecturer | Performer

An arrangement of movements from Jean-Philippe Rameau’s ‘Les Indes Galantes’

2014 (appx. 10′)

Flute (doubling piccolo and bass flute), Clarinet in A (doubling bass-clarinet), Percussion (triangle, crotales [bowed], vibraphone, marimba, 3 gongs, tam-tam, tenor drum, tambourine), Piano, Violin, ‘Cello

1. Air pour les Esclaves Affricains
2. Tambourines
3. Adoration du soleil
4. Air pour boree et la rose
5. Danse du grand calumet de paix executee par les sauvages

Duration: circa 9 – 10 minutes

Programme note:

Rameau’s opera-ballet ‘Les Indes Galantes’ (‘The Amorous Indes’) was first realised in Paris’ Palais Royale in 1735. It is a strange and somewhat incoherent story in several parts, set seemingly in the South Americas, yet really nowhere at all – just in some strange world not known to us. We must remember that this was a time of discovery, and adventure and the exotic was to be marvelled at simply for its curiosity. Rameau’s music is startlingly adventurous and is certainly highly exotic, containing music of a wealth of heightened colours. This transcription takes a movement from each act (the Prologue and each of the four subsequent Entrées) therefore giving a nod to the work’s overall design. This instrumentation is certainly alien to anything Rameau would have known. While his creation would have used percussion, these would have been fairly rudimentary instruments, and he certainly would not have had access to the plethora of types of instruments that have worked their way into the orchestral palette. Furthermore, the clarinet and piano had yet to be invented, and the bass flute had not even been imagined. This transcription goes beyond the conventional use of that word. The music is restyled. It is done so to leave a message. A sardonic wit should permeate the whole and we should find ourselves both amused by what we hear, yet also somewhat surprised that we can take for granted music with such titles. And yet, Rameau’s music is exquisite, and the ‘Adoration du soleil’ (Adoration of the sun’) is breathtakingly beautiful. The ‘Air to the African Slaves’ gives way to a Chaplainesque ‘Tambourin’ – the first of these two inhabiting sounds that are deep and rumbustious, and the second being exceedingly light and frivolous. ‘The Dance of the Savages’ now mixes the music of Russia with Klezmer, Vienna, France, Tango and Great Britain, among an amorphous pool. After all, we are all savages at times. The irony is personal. I am often bedevilled by man’s frequent inability to behave decently. I am amused and saddened that so called leaders can make so many mistakes – and in its year of composition (2014) that celebrated the centenary of beginning of the First World War, remembering the innumerable consequences that needless war created was certainly in my mind. But so were the mini jostlings of power in so many environments – even in homes. Thus this transcription becomes something of an irreverent and cheeky nod, which is nonetheless serious in its fundamental creation. The result is a journey in which we discover Rameau’s music anew, revel in its colour and charm, laugh at its wit, and ponder the inadequacy of mankind in its ability to properly understand itself. This recording, made at a live event with a roving microphone, was given by the Ossian Ensemble, directed by Darren Bloom

© Paul Max Edlin, August 2014

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