Boulanger, L -  D'un Matin de Printemps for flute and piano (Masters)

Boulanger, L - D'un Matin de Printemps for flute and piano (Masters)

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There is some discrepancy as to when Lili Boulanger (1893-1918) wrote the symphonic poem, "D'un matin de printemps" ("Of a spring morning"). What is known is that Lili died on March 15, 1918, and had been ill for some time. Lili had contracted intestinal tuberculosis -- now called Crohn's disease -- at a very early age and had spent her whole life in fragile health. On July 30, 1917, Dr. Thierry de Martel performed an appendectomy, hoping this might extend her life. It is known that Lili began to compose "D'un soir triste," ("Of a sad evening"), in December 1917. This is the companion piece to "D'un matin de printemps." She began this latter piece for violin and piano in spring 1917, although she probably finished the orchestrated version in 1918, and so there the discrepancy lies. These two pieces were the last compositions that Lili wrote of her own hand. After this, she was too weak to write her own music; however, she was desperate to keep composing -- which she did with the help of her sister, Nadia -- and to finish her opera, ""La Princesse Maleine," which unfortunately she never completed.

Lili Boulanger wrote "D'un matin de printemps" in three different arrangements: One for violin or flute and piano, another for piano trio, and still another as an orchestral arrangement. Although Lili finished both works, Nadia added the finer editings and details of dynamics.

"D'un matin de printemps" and "D'un soir triste" are alike in many ways. Their melodic lines are comparable and show similarities in themes. They are both written in the Impressionistic style; however, these differ in that they stray from the close ties to Debussy's writings that Lili had adhered to in the past., They are also dissimilar, as "spring morning" is fast and lively, and "sad evening" is slow and melancholy.

In the orchestral version of "D'un matin de printemps," the flute begins with the main theme, which then travels throughout the woodwind section. The strings are dancing in ¾ time underneath the melodic line, in a happy, joyous manner. However, a sadness does pervade this piece, as it ritards, then builds in dynamics and orchestration, into a beautiful array of musical lines. It then continues almost abruptly on its merry way. Lili's use of orchestration is masterful and belies her youth. In the piano and violin version, the violin strongly plays the lively themes, while the piano imitates the dancing quality of the strings in the orchestral version. Both renditions are equal in quality, possibly because Lili did not compose the piano and violin version as a predecessor to its orchestral equivalent, but meant for all three versions (including the trio) to stand on their own. The strong ending of the piece attests to Lili's inner vitality, despite her physical frailness.



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