Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921)
for Cello and Piano Various Collections Instrumentation: Originally two pianos and cello, as written in the 13th movement of SaintSaens’s suite Carnival of the Animals. The second piano part offers primarily rolled chords on the first and fourth beats, as well as some reinforcement of moving harmonic lines, but when the piece is performed as anindependent solo, it is usually accompanied by the first piano only. Background Information on Le Carnaval des Animaux (The Carnival of the Animals), subtitled Grande Fantaisei Zoologique (Grand Zoological Fantasy): A suite of fourteen movements by the French Romantic composer Camille Saint-Saëns, composed in a few days in February 1886 while Saint-Saëns was vacationing in Austria. It was originally scoredfor a chamber group of flute/piccolo, clarinet (B flat and C), two pianos, glass armonica, xylophone, two violins, viola, cello and double bass, but is usually performed today with a full orchestra of strings, and with a glockenspiel substituting for the rare glass armonica. Saint-Saëns suppressed performances of Carnival while he was alive. It is speculated that he was concerned the piece wastoo frivolous and likely to harm his reputation as a serious composer. The only movement he allowed published in 1887 was The Swan. After his death in 1921, SaintSaens had given permission in his will to publish the piece in it entirety, and it became one of his most popular and frequently performed pieces. It has been the inspiration for all kinds of performances, costumes, dances. The Ballet “TheDying Swan” (performed to the music of The Swan) was choreographed by Anna Pavlova in 1905. The American poet Ogden Nash wrote a verse for each movement of the suite in 1949, and these have been frequently read at performances of Carnival of the Animals ever since.
Elements of Music
Form—Ternary (ABA) 1bar intro | A: 8 bars 4+4 | B: 8 bars 4+4 | A 4 bars recap + 5 + 2 coda
barsRhythm—In 6/4 meter; Graceful, slow moving quarter notes, stately eighth note runs in melody; accompaniment has undulating eighths in left hand, rippling 16ths in right hand. In closing bars of piece, the rhythm between the “swan” and the “water” takes turns pausing, one moving while the other rests in half-bar sections. Melody—The opening 2 bars of the melody literally depict the outline of aswan, and the contour creates a very elegant line. § The primarily descending melody is balanced by the upward glide of the second 2 measures. The B section begins by utilizing fragments of the descending melodic shape; again the 2nd pair of measures have more upward direction in shape. The suspension on
the high B creates the peak of the melody, since the vast majority of the melody is createdwith continuous movement. The descent from the high B is extended by an extra bar, and then offers three more suspended melodic moments, the final one bringing the piece back to the G where it began, to float away, out of sight. Harmony—Key: G Major Intro: m. 1 - GM A section: 1st phrase (mm. 2-5) : I – ii – V 7 – I | 2nd phrase (mm. 6-9): I – dim7 – Bm – F#M7 - Bm B section: (mm. 10-13) G: I6 – dim7 – DM 7 (susp. G/ F# res.) | FM6 – dim 7 - C 7 (susp. F/E res.) |
(mm. 14-17) FM 7 – A min –D min – A min – half dim AM – Dm 7 – DM 7
A section return (mm. 18-20): GM I - ii – V 7 – (m.21 under held B) I 7 – B dim – EM 7 |
(mm. 22-23) A min – FM – GM – A min 7 | (mm. 24-25) GM – E min 7 – DM |
Close: (mm. 26-28 under held G) vi – I – vi – I – vi – I – vi – I – vi – I – I – I Theharmonies never veer far from “home”, though offer enough interest through diminished chords and suspensions to keep the listener interested, and resolutions for satisfaction and rest. The bass line moves in a natural progression, formed by inversions, and are especially interesting and prominent when the harmonic rhythm speeds up (especially near the return of the A section). The V – I resolution is...