No. 2: Noël à Genève, op. 10/2 (1984)
»à mon ami, Dr. Pierre Duchosal«

For chamber ensemble
Duration: ca. 20 Minuten

 

This Divertissement is a musical impression of Geneva at Christmastime. In eight strolls (movements) the curious spectator discovers the previously little known city of Geneva.

The first movement portrays a Christmas Eve stroll through the city’s main shopping street, the “Rue de Marché”. One hears street singers with “goulante de pauvre Jean”. The pealing and playing of bells spreads pre-Christmas flair. The throng of shoppers and strollers is represented by the harpsichord, and then by the entire ensemble … at the end, the spectator goes away …

The second movement is titled »Minuit à la Perle du Lac—un ciel étoilé« and here as well harmony and melody are marked by that three-tone motto heard at the beginning of the Sonatine op. 2 and the First Divertissement. This little piece depicts the mood at one of the loveliest parts of Lake Geneva, just after the Bise wind was changing Geneva into a winter dream. The lake is just barely frozen over; gentle waves lap under the silvery glinting ice, and the frosted vegetation glitters in silvery white. The three-tone motif appears here in various inversions and in wave-like movements, passes through contrapuntal intertwining into new combinations, and occasionally into surprisingly melodic lines … The composer has also released two other performance versions of this movement, one for violin and piano, the other for solo piano (see above).

But at the beginning of the third movement, the omnipresent Stravinsky pops up again. Stravinsky’s Devil from L’Histoire du Soldat (now disguised as clarinetist) emerges from the lake, here with an authentic Stravinsky quotation, only to—in the fourth movement—transform himself into an angel and then (as cellist) dance a seductive waltz. This fourth movement was also arranged by the composer for cello and piano (see below).

Suddenly, out of the “Jardin Botanique”, we hear a magic flute, which, inspired by J. S. Bach, warbles a Bandiera. This fifth movement also exists in an arrangement for flute and piano (see below).

And then—in the sixth movement—it suddenly gets loud. A solitary harpsichord tries out rock music—but who wants to listen on the night of Christmas Eve? This movement also exists in an arrangement for solo piano.

In this clear cloudless night, the viola player can’t tear himself away from the starry sky. The seventh movement, his elegy to the universe, remains however unnoticed in the city streets …

In the eighth and last movement it gets ghostly on the roofs of the Palais de Nations. It begins with a fanfare, and then the Nations party with their anthems.

 

Arrangements of op. 10, No. 2:

Le diable se transforme en un singe et il danse une valse séduisante
(Extrait du 2ème Divertissement Suisse) Op. 10/2 (1984)
»à la mémoire du Pierre Fournier«

For cello and piano
Premiere: 1991, Los Angeles, played by Adalbert Scocic and Adrian Cox
Duration: ca. 2 minutes
Score: ECA Nr. 72007

 

Le sons d’une flute magique nous emmène au milieu du jardin botanique
(Extrait du 2ème Divertissement Suisse op. 10/2) (1984)

For flute and piano
Duration: ca. 1 minute

 

Chambardement à l’éveil de noël
(Extrait du 2ème Divertissement Suisse op. 10/2) (1984)

For piano
Duration: ca. 1 minute
Score: ECA Nr. 71017

 

Chambardement à l’éveil de noël
(Extrait du 2ème Divertissement Suisse op. 10/2) (1984)

For harpsichord
Duration: ca. 1 minute

 

Minuit à la Perle du lac – un ciel étoilé
(Extrait du 2ème Divertissement Suisse op. 10/2) (1984)

For piano
Premiere: 1987, London (Royal Academy), played by René Staar
Duration: ca. 2 minutes
Score: ECA Nr. 72008/1

 

Minuit à la Perle du lac – un ciel étoilé
(Extrait du 2ème Divertissement Suisse op. 10/2) (1984)
»To my mother Herma Staar on her birthday«

For violin and piano
Premiere: 1984, »Musikalischer Sommer« – Vienna, played by René Staar
Duration: ca. 2 minutes
Score: ECA Nr. 72008

Audio sample:

 

René Staar - Minuit a la Perle du lac

René Staar, violin
Harald Ossberger, piano