Pantomime Op.24 for orchestra and for piano solo
Gabriel Pierné – Pantomime Op. 24
(b. Metz, Loraine, 16 August 1863 — d. Ploujean, Finistère, 17 July 1937)
In 1889, two different versions of Gabriel Pierné’s Pantomime op. 24 were published by Parisian editor Alphonse Leduc. The first version, for piano solo, appeared in the December issue of the Supplément Littéraire, Musical et Artistique de Paris-Noël. This particular version was part of an artistic collaboration; it featured the complete version of Pantomime de la Statue by the French writer Paul Arène (1843-1896) with the music of Pierné, his dedication to Leduc’s wife, the libretto, and graphic designs by Auguste-François-Marie Gorguet (1862-1927). Pierné revised his piano score and produced a new version for petit orchestre (flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, triangle, timpani, and strings). The version, which only contains the musical score, became known simply as Pantomime op. 24.1
Although distinctively French (created by French artists, written in French language, and published in a French magazine), Pantomime de la Statue follows the conventions of the English-style pantomime. Traditionally, English pantomimes included music and text and were published (and most likely performed) around Christmas time. They also featured archetypal characters from la commedia dell’arte, a humorous and relatable plot, and an inevitably happy ending. The popularity of the English-style pantomime prompted other countries to adapt it and produce it in local languages. The plot of Pantomime de la Statue uses components of daily life, such as money and food, to articulate a deeper plot: the possibility of romantic love between members of different social classes. The depiction of such hope, for instance love surviving class disparities, in popular culture reinforced possibilities of social climbing, self-improvement, and as depicted in popular culture, resonated with the French working class and contributed to maintain social order.
Understanding the plot of Pantomime de la Statue is crucial to understand Gabriel Pierné’s score. The play includes four characters: Pierrot, Arlequin, Cassandre, and his daughter Colombine. Throughout the play, Arlequin and Pierrot compete for Colombine’s attention. Colombine, whose love for Pierrot is stated at the beginning of the play, is soon to be married to Arlequin because he promised her father, Cassandre, a lucrative future in exchange for her hand. Cassandre and Pierrot discover that Arlequin’s wealth is the product of his activities as a thief. While this makes Cassandre an accomplice, it provides Pierrot with the ethical/moral upper hand to formulate a plan to finally marry Colombine.
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225 x 320 mm