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Magical Henri Roman on the bassoon, Fabien Bernoud on the oboe and Richard Malblanc on the clarinet
Magical Henri Roman on the bassoon, Fabien Bernoud on the oboe and Richard Malblanc on the clarinet

Trio a Vent Propos enchanted lovers of Western Classical Music

The Trio a Vent Propos charmingly brought out the hues and shades of each of Beethoven’s variations on ‘La ci darem la mano’

Music lovers in the city had the rare privilege of enjoying an evening of Western classical music recently at Vyloppilly Sanskriti Bhavan. The Trio a Vent Propos consisting of Richard Malblanc on the clarinet, Fabien Bernoud on the oboe and Henri Roman on the bassoon offered a charming selection of pieces rare and popular, by composers well known and less known, from the classical (18th century), romantic (19th century) as well as modern (20th century) periods.

They opened with a Divertimento by Mozart, originally written for strings, but charmingly transposed to the wind instruments played by the trio. Roman, on the bassoon, displayed his control over the instrument right from the start.

Normally one associates instruments like the base guitar and the bassoon with providing the background while other instruments take centre stage and display its virtuosity. But the bassoon in the capable hands of Roman asserted its presence magnificently all through the concert in a way Mozart himself, a man who composed not just a concerto for the bassoon but also a sonata for the cello and the bassoon, would have been proud of.

Orchestral work

This was followed by La scala di seta by Rossini. Although Rossini is better known as a composer of operas, he has also written several beautiful orchestral works and this was a transposition of one of his works, for wind instruments.

The third item was variations on ‘La ci darem la mano’ by Ludwig van Beethoven. ‘La ci darem la mano’ (‘Your hand in mine, my dearest’) is one of the most beautiful songs ever written by anyone. This is an aria from the celebrated opera ‘Don Giovanni’ by Mozart, in which the protagonist, Don Giovanni (Or Don Juan), tries to seduce the lovely Zerlina who is about to get married to someone else, by singing this song.

When young Beethoven met Mozart, who was already a celebrity, he played something on the piano that left Mozart initially unimpressed. Not someone to give up easily, Beethoven asked Mozart to play one of his own tunes on the piano and Mozart obliged.

Then Beethoven spontaneously proceeded to unleash a virtual storm of variations on the theme that Mozart had just played, which overwhelmed Mozart completely, prompting him to comment “Watch out for this one ! He will make a lot of noise for sure!”

The Trio a Vent Propos charmingly brought out the hues and shades of each of Beethoven’s variations on ‘La ci darem la mano.’

Modern compositions

The second half of the concert featured three modern compositions by three French composers: ‘Divertissement’ by Jean Francaix, ‘Suite pour trio d’anches’ by Alexandre Tansman and ‘Trio’ by Georges Auric.

The themes of the first two were rather abstract compared to the pieces by Mozart, Rossini and Beethoven though the final item was relatively melodious and light.

Rather like the issue of classical versus modern painting, the jury is still out on which is better; music before the twentieth century or after. Full credit goes to the Trio for making a selection that would please followers of either school of thought.

Since the concert was organised by Alliance Francaise de Trivandrum and since the musicians themselves were French, it was apt that they included pieces by lesser known French composers like Jean Francaix, Alexandre Tansman and Georges Auric rather than stick to the familiar pieces by composers like Rameau, Debussy, Berlioz, Ravel, Saint – Seans and others.

With the great tradition of Western classical music still being in it’s infancy in India, the work done by institutions like the Alliance Francaise is welcome and one looks forward to more and more evenings of such music in our city.

The Trio a Vent Propos charmingly brought out the hues and shades of each of Beethoven’s variations on ‘La ci darem la mano’

RAMA VARMA

(THE AUTHOR IS A NOTED CARNATIC MUSICIAN)

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