This concert of contrasting pieces presents a whole microcosm of animals, tender and picturesque: inspiring birds, grotesque poultry, ants and crickets, and an elegant peacock longing for marriage!
‘I use animals to teach men’, says the famous verse by La Fontaine, summing up the moral and satirical significance of his animal portrayals. Here, we enjoy three of his fables—including The Grasshopper and the Ant, about the freedom of art—masterfully scored by André Caplet. We also hear the characteristic clucking of hens in Rameau’s comical Poule, and the endearing menagerie of Ravel’s Histoires naturelles, the nostalgic charm of Enesco’s Impressions d'enfance, recalling the memory of a caged bird and a cricket. Through its crystalline instrumentation and contemplative ambiance, Respighi’s Il tramonto, based on a poem by Shelley, conjures the colours of a sunset. A flurry of larks swoops across the space, as in the most famous of Haydn’s Six Quartets, Op. 64. The trills and tremolos of the songbird, in the first movement, are as lilting as the starling that, according to legend, put the theme of a concerto in Mozart’s ear.