|Le Carnaval des Animaux'
||[Dec. 4th, 2009|01:08 pm]
Le Carnaval des Animaux' (The Carnival of the Animals) is a musical suite of fourteen movements by the French Romantic composer Camille Saint-Saëns.|
Le Carnaval was composed in February 1886 while Saint-Saëns was vacationing in a small Austrian village. It was originally scored for a chamber group of flute, clarinet, two pianos, glass harmonica, xylophone, two violins, viola, cello and double bass, but is usually performed today with a full orchestra of strings, and with a glockenspiel substituting for the rare glass harmonica.
Saint-Saëns, apparently concerned that the piece was too frivolous and likely to harm his reputation as a serious composer, suppressed performances of it and only allowed one movement, Le Cygne, to be published in his lifetime. Only small private performances were given for close friends like Franz Liszt.
Saint-Saëns did, however, include a provision which allowed the suite to be published after his death, and it has since become one of his most popular works. It is a favorite of music teachers and young children, along with Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf and Britten's The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra.
Strings without double-bass, two pianos, flute, and harmonica: This is one of the more musically rich movements. The melody is played by the flute, backed by the strings, on top of tumultuous, glissando like runs in the piano. The first piano plays a descending ten-on-one ostinato, while the second plays a six-on-one. These figures, plus the occasional glissando from the harmonica, are very evocative of a peaceful, dimly-lit aquarium. This intermittent section where the pianos play high sixteenths is reminiscent of parts of Tchaikovsky's ballet, The Nutcracker.
Aquarium is featured in the trailers for the 1994 film Only You, the 1974 film The Godfather Part II, the 2006 film Charlotte's Web and the 2008 film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and appears to be one of the influences on the main theme in Walt Disney's Beauty and the Beast and is especially prominent in the cue titled "The West Wing". It is also the opening theme music to the 1978 film Days of Heaven and the opening and closing theme in the 1992 film documentary, Visions of Light. Aquarium is played throughout the Simpsons episode "The Wife Aquatic," and can be heard in the The Ren and Stimpy Show episode entitled, "Rubber Nipple Salesmen." It is also heard in the video game Crash Tag Team Racing, and along with "Swan" is part of the soundtrack of the video game Burnout Paradise (2008 edition). It is also used in the film "Impressions de France", shown at the French theater in EPCOT's Showcase of Nations (see Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florica).