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Fantasy for piano and orchestra op. 26 (Fernand de La Tombelle)

Date

1887

Description

Allegro – Adagio – Finale : Allegro molto

Text

Chamber music, and music for piano and organ (his instrument), occupied a central place in the output of Fernand de la Tombelle, who wrote very little for orchestra. However, in the case of this Fantaisie, awarded Premier Prix from the Société des Compositeurs de Musique in 1887, he had set his sights so high that, to make circulation of the work easier, he decided to prune it by cutting the cor anglais, bass clarinet, two of the four bassoons, the cornets, tuba and percussion. Another reduction retained only the piano and strings which at times incorporated the wind parts; the work gained in punch what it lost in a show of strength, and the keyboard, not as fiercely beset by the strings, was able to reveal a greater degree of light and shade. Finally, a two-piano version was proof that this piece had great power whatever the forces used. The title is indicative of a period when distrust of so-called virtuoso histrionics caused composers to disguise actual concertos by calling them Symphony, Suite, Fantasy or Ballad. This is evident from the calibre of the dedicatee, Louis Diemer. In the passionate F minor of the initial allegro, overflowing with thematic struggles, the soloist plays breathless arpeggios beneath the melodies. The piano sings out in the adagio, despite ominous outbreaks of the cyclical theme. The momentum of the ternary rhythm, and the simple melodic lines save the finale from being dragged back into grandiloquent bravado by the return of the cyclical theme.