flute, clarinet, piano
I. The Grasshopper and the Ant
2. The Owl and the Echo
3. The Lion, the Fox and the Fish
4. The Man and the Fish-Horn
October 27, 2003
The Wreckhouse Winds:
Michelle Cheramy, flute;
Sean Rice, clarinet;
Maureen Volk, piano
This set of four short pieces draws its inspiration from animal apologues by authors from near and far.
The Grasshopper and the Ant is a classic fable traditionally ascribed to the Greek slave Aesop (ca. 620–560 BC).
In keeping with the antics of the two protagonists, the piece is an acrobatic dance.
The Owl and the Echo, by eighteenth-century French fabulist Jean-Baptist Perrin, explains the nocturnal habits of the owl and its solitary call. Perrin's many fables were known in the US primarily through a French-language primer published in 1846. The second movement is a melancholy and atmospheric canon.
The Russian writer Ivan Kyrlov (1769–1844) was celebrated for the whimsical political satire in his fables, the most frequent target of which was the Russian imperial family. The Lion, the Fox and the Fish is said to parody a local governor’s response to Alexander I, after the Emperor had expressed concern over the rioting populace. This movement is a dance, a sort of sizzling scherzo.
The fame of American author Ambrose Bierce (1842–1914) rested in large part on his withering wit, as manifested in his acerbic Devil’s Dictionary. (He defines a fiddle as “an instrument to tickle human ears by friction of a horse’s tail on the entrails of a cat.”) The Man and the Fish-Horn is similarly sardonic, as it pokes fun at the fable genre and, in particular, at Aesop’s many stories of fisherman. The last movement is a lively fanfare. The fables may be read before each movement.