Reducing the boundaries between the visual and musical arts

The Renaissance Choir is performing at the Private View of British Art Show 8 tonight, 30 November.

See our earlier news item.

Our MD, Peter Gambie, believes that sound and words can combine as an art form to enhance the experience. These words explain this view and demonstrate how he anticipates that the Renaissance Choir will achieve this in tonight’s performance.

 

“I want to talk about the links between the visual arts and music. In a moment, we’re going to sing some paintings to you by the French composer, Francis Poulenc.

“Poulenc was part of an eclectic group of artists working in Paris in the last century. Sharing a meal together in a restaurant in September 1920 were Diaghilev (ballet) André Gide (novelist) Kochno (poet), Maurice Chevallier, Coco Chanel, Proust, Poulenc and Picasso. Unsurprisingly, Dadaism flourished here. Poulenc composed the song cycle Le Travail du Peintre, a settting of poems by Éluard, who had written about Picasso, Chagall, Klee, Miro et al. In his poem about Picasso, Éluard writes you hold the flame between your fingers, And you paint like fire. Poulenc captures this with hard–edged and dark music, with him showing the implacable energy of the artist in its indomitable rhythms.

“We’re going to perform three movements from one of Poulenc’s last works, his Gloria. I invite you to listen for imagery. The first movement reminds me of young children dashing around a school playground, playing conkers. The second movement feels cartoon-like – Tom chasing Jerry around the kitchen perhaps, with that well-known look of menace in Tom’s eyes. The final movement is much more complex. It’s bright crimson with anger at the beginning before moving quickly into restful lilac. Columns of marchers follow before a vivid final section. Poulenc is ambiguous here concerning meaning. Is the ambiguity about his faith in a God, or is he teasing us about whether we’re watching music, listening to a painting being created, or both?”

 

Picture: Wassily Kandinsky’s Composition VII, 1913. The Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow