Album Release

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Ce Que Chante la Pluie D’Automne by Marcel Tournier

Next up on Autumn’s Greatest Hits for the Harp....
Ce Que Chante la Pluie D’Automne, Lied Op. 49 by Marcel Tournier (1879-1951)
Published in 1947, written for Thérèse Hansen, who was the harp professor at the Conservatory in Reims at the time. (All I know so far about Thérèse Hansen is that she was still teaching in Reims in the 60s. Her sister Renée married Pierre Jamet. Still searching for info on her...)
I have never heard this piece performed, and have found only one recording... Jutta Zoff on the albums “Pure Joy” and “Harp: Greatest Works.”
A raw translation comes out to be: “What the autumn rain sings” (thanks to my personal French explainer next to me on the couch). Not too be confused with “Those that sing in the autumn rain” or “Those that sing the autumn rain.” 
No. It’s the song of the autumn rain.
Things I hear within this piece:
Steady rhythm of single drops of rain 
Sheets of rain 
The depth of a wet storm-- rain drops at arm’s length and the echo of thunder in the distance
I’ve been working on this piece for months now, and it seemed like a bucket of odd notes up until last week when I was able to finally play the piece at tempo. Quarter note= 100. Anything less doesn’t make sense. “Ohhh.” 
For my birthday this year, I got a fishing pole and gear. And thanks to a friend’s invitation to stay in a “cabin” near Castellane, Francois and I (and Cash of course) ventured up last weekend fully equipped with a skillet and lemons. It was so beautiful up there- crisp air, mushrooms galore, the smell of smoking chimneys, red, orange, yellow, green leaves, cloudy skies. Great fishing environment. 
On the second day, the clouds turned to rain, which stunk for fishing (COLD, miserable) but great for thinking about Ce Que Chante la Pluie D’Automne. Music can convey a message, a feeling, a  story, or a thing. In this case, in my opinion, it conveys a thing. Like an artist and his still life painting of fruit. You step back and say- THAT is FRUIT. Indeed. Beautiful. 
Same here. THAT is AUTUMN RAIN. Indeed. Nothing evocative. I can step back and admire its raw beauty.
Marcel Lucien Tournier was a Paris-based harpist, composer, and teacher... the student of Alphonse Hasselmans and mentor to many significant French harpists. His compositions were directed mainly towards solo harp, and his life fell smack dab in the middle of the impressionist movement that was happening in Classical music in Europe. Apart from a handful of pieces that weren’t give title of a specific image or scene, his music is just that -- images and scenes.
One last note: I know weird stuff can happen with opus numbers, and I may be over speculating here, but I can’t find a Tournier Op. number greater than this one- 49... could this be the last piece that he wrote? Inspired during the “Autumn” of his life, perhaps? Interesting interesting interesting.

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