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Name of Work

Jolivet, André (1905-1974)
Pastorales de Noël (Christmas Pastoral) for flute, bassoon and harp

Les Mages
La Vierge et l'Enfant
Entrée et Danse des Bergers


Oct 21, 2007

Mathieu Dufour, Flute
Dennis Michel, Bassoon
Yumiko Endo Schlaffer, Harp

Oct 22, 2007

Mathieu Dufour, Flute
Dennis Michel, Bassoon
Yumiko Endo Schlaffer, Harp

JOLIVET-Pastorales de Noël for Flute, Bassoon and Harp

Composed in 1943.

"From the aesthetic viewpoint, my aim is to give back to music its ancient and original character as the magic and incantational expression of human groups. Music should be a sonorous manifestation directly related to the universal cosmic system." Thus did André Jolivet summarize the philosophical intent of his creative work.

Though he explored many important streams of music in devising his own creative language -- the unfettered harmony of Schoenberg, the daring sonorities of Varèse, the elemental rhythmic energy of Stravinsky, the formal integrity of Bartók, ancient modality, primitive incantations -- Jolivet's style is unique: dissonant but luminous, richly detailed but expansive in expression, contemporary in idiom but cathartic in effect.

Jolivet was born in 1905 into a well-to-do Parisian family that provided him with a fine grounding in art, literature, music and theater. He studied cello and began composing as a teenager, and became a member of the choir of Notre Dame de Clignancourt in Paris, where he took lessons in harmony and organ from the church's Maître de Chapelle, Abbé Aimé Théodas. Jolivet's parents discouraged him from entering a musical career, however, so he earned a degree in education and taught in various Parisian schools while continuing his training in composition from 1928 to 1933 with the French composer Paul Le Flem, a student of d'Indy and Roussel at the Schola Cantorum.

In 1930, Le Flem presented Jolivet to his friend Edgard Varèse, who introduced the young musician to his iconoclastic techniques of orchestration and sound organization over the next three years. In 1935, Jolivet, Olivier Messiaen and Daniel Lesur founded La Spirale, a group dedicated to promoting contemporary chamber music. A year later, they were joined by Yves Baudrier to form Jeune France, which sought to propagate a modern French idiom unaffected by what they saw as the sterile experiments of the Viennese serialists. Jolivet thereafter composed prolifically, though his early adventurous style was tempered by tradition during the years of World War II. In addition to his creative work, Jolivet was music director of the Comédie Française (1943-1959), technical advisor to the Direction Générale des Arts et Lettres (1959-1962), founder of the Centre Français d'Humanisme Musical at Aix-en-Provence (1959), president of the Concerts Lamoureux (1963-1968) and professor of composition at the Paris Conservatoire (1965-1970). He was also known as a skilled conductor, and traveled throughout the world directing performances of his own music.

The gentleness, restraint and introspection of the Pastorales de Noël reflect not only Jolivet's mature musical language but also of the time of the work's creation -- 1943, when France had been under Nazi occupation for three years. As the composition's title suggests, each of the movements is a subtle evocation of an element of the Christmas story, with the flute and bassoon, accompanied by an angelic harp, recalling the pipes and reed instruments of the Biblical shepherds and their generations of descendants who paid homage to the babe in the manger. L'Étoile ("The Star") begins with a quiet and somewhat mysterious duet for flute and bassoon in which the harp is allowed an increasing prominence until the movement closes with a radiant flare of sound. The desert march of the Three Wisemen is suggested by Les Mages ("The Magi"). La Vierge et l'Enfant ("The Virgin and the Child") is a comforting lullaby. The shepherds arrive and perform their spirited dance of devotion in Entrée et Danse des Bergers.

Program notes by Dr. Richard E. Rodda

Performance date: October 21 & 22, 2007

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